published Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Noose found hanging at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant

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    Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Ala., is seen from above.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Valley Authority is investigating who hung a noose at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Ala.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports this is the fifth time a noose has been reported at a TVA facility in the past four years.

Agency spokesman Travis Brickey said he did not know whether investigators believe the placement of the noose was racially motivated. He said he could not give any other details on the incident.

The utility released a statement that reads, "TVA sets high standards for employee conduct and this type of activity will not be tolerated. We are conducting a full investigation."

That message was echoed by TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore in an employee newsletter. He called the discovery of the noose an "isolated incident" but also says it is serious. And Kilgore praises those who reported it.

"It was the right thing to do. Our core values are critical to our success," he writes. "I ask for your confidence that we will do the right thing to prevent future incidents such as this."

In a 2009 report, TVA's Office of the Inspector General described two incidents at the Shawnee Fossil Plant near Paducah, Ky.

In one, a supervisor noticed a noose in a photograph of scaffolding. In another, a unit operator tied a noose in view of an African-American employee. The report does not note the race of the person tying the noose. He untied the noose and apologized after being told by another worker that his behavior could cost him his job. A report was made to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to prosecute.

Two other incidents were reported at Tennessee's Kingston Fossil Plant.

In September 2008, a hangman's noose was found near a stairway at the plant. While this was being investigated, another noose was found hanging 30 feet up on a steel structure outside the plant. Investigators said they believe it had been there for years.

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