TVA vows to thaw chilled atmosphere, better handle employee safety concerns

Watts Bar nuclear plant.

Under regulatory pressure to change the way employee concerns are handled, TVA says it is trying to thaw the often chilled atmosphere for employees to raise safety concerns at its Watts Bar nuclear plant.

TVA's top nuclear officials said Tuesday they have revamped management procedures, coached bosses on how to better treat workers and conducted surveys and employee meetings to better encourage and respond to safety issues raised by workers.

"We recognize that the Watts Bar environment, and specifically in operations, had degraded to a point where some operators felt reluctant to raise issues - we get that and we own that," Mike Balduzzzi, senior vice president at TVA, told nuclear regulators Tuesday. "We firmly believe it is necessary for our employees to feel free to raise nuclear safety issues without fear of retaliation and, in fact, they should expect to be complimented for doing so."

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