List of nuclear whistleblowers

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This is a list of nuclear whistleblowers. They are mainly former employees of nuclear facilities who have spoken out about safety concerns.

Year Image Name Organization Action
1974 Karen Silkwood Kerr-McGee The first prominent nuclear whistleblower was Karen Silkwood, who worked as a chemical technician at a Kerr-McGee nuclear plant. Silkwood became an activist in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union in order to protest health and safety issues. In 1974, she testified to the United States Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. The 1983 film Silkwood is a fictional account of this story.
1976 Gregory C. Minor, Richard B. Hubbard, and Dale G. Bridenbaugh General Electric Nuclear power whistleblowers. On February 2, 1976, (Gregory C. Minor, Richard B. Hubbard, and Dale G. Bridenbaugh (known as the GE Three) "blew the whistle" on safety problems at nuclear power plants, and their action has been called "an exemplary instance of whistleblowing".[1] The three engineers gained the attention of journalists and their disclosures about the threats of nuclear power had a significant impact. They timed their statements to coincide with their resignations from responsible positions in General Electric's nuclear energy division, and later established themselves as consultants on the nuclear power industry for state governments, federal agencies, and overseas governments. The consulting firm they formed, MHB Technical Associates, was technical advisor for the movie, The China Syndrome. The three engineers participated in Congressional hearings which their disclosures precipitated.[1][2][3][4]
1985 Roger D. Wensil B.F. Shaw Company Roger Wensil, a pipe-fitter, worked for the B.F. Shaw Co., a subcontractor at Savannah River Plant. In 1985, Wensil was dismissed as a whistleblower, after he complained of safety violations and illegal drug use among construction workers building a sensitive nuclear waste-handling facility at the plant. In 1992, the U.S. Congress enacted "nuclear weapons whistleblower protection".[5]
1986 Mordechai Vanunu Headshot.jpg Mordechai Vanunu Israeli nuclear weapons program Revealed Israel's clandestine nuclear program to the British press. He spent seventeen and a half years in prison as a result, the first eleven of these in solitary confinement. After his release, sanctions were placed on him: among others, he was not allowed to leave Israel or speak to foreigners. The sanctions have been renewed every twelve months. At present, he is appealing a further six-month prison sentence imposed by an Israeli court for having spoken to foreigners and foreign press.[6][7]
1990 Arnold Gundersen Nuclear Energy Services Arnold Gundersen discovered radioactive material in an accounting safe at Nuclear Energy Services (NES) in Danbury, Connecticut, the consulting firm where he held a $120,000-a-year job as senior vice president.[8] Three weeks after he notified the company president of what he believed to be radiation safety violations, Gundersen was fired. According to The New York Times, for three years, Gundersen "was awakened by harassing phone calls in the middle of the night" and he "became concerned about his family's safety". Gundersen believes he was blacklisted, harassed and fired for doing what he thought was right.[8] NES filed a $1.5 million defamation lawsuit against him that was settled out-of-court. A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report concluded that there had been irregularities at NES, and the Office of the Inspector General reported that the NRC had violated its own regulations by sending business to NES.[9]
1996 George Galatis Nuclear power industry George Galatis was a senior nuclear engineer who reported safety problems at the Millstone 1 Nuclear Power Plant, relating to reactor refueling procedures, in 1996.[10][11] The unsafe procedures meant that spent fuel rod pools at Unit 1 had the potential to boil, possibly releasing radioactive steam.[12] Galatis eventually took his concerns to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to find that they had "known about the unsafe procedures for years". As a result of going to the NRC, Galatis experienced "subtle forms of harassment, retaliation, and intimidation".[11][13] The NRC Office of Inspector General investigated this episode and essentially agreed with Galatis in Case Number 95-771, the report of which tells the whole story.[14] George Galatis was the subject of a Time magazine cover story on March 4, 1996.[13] Millstone 1 was permanently closed in July 1998.
1997 Alan Parkinson Australian Government Alan Parkinson is a mechanical and nuclear engineer who has written the 2007 book, Maralinga: Australia’s Nuclear Waste Cover-up, about the clean-up of the British atomic bomb test site at Maralinga in South Australia.[15] In 1993, Parkinson became the key person on the Maralinga clean-up project, representing the then federal Labor government. By 1997, however, there was much cost-cutting involved which compromised the project, and personal differences about how the project should proceed, which led to the sacking of Parkinson by the new Howard government.[16] The clean-up was totally unsatisfactory according to Parkinson and he exposed the situation through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, provoking a strong rebuttal and personal abuse from the government.[16]
2004 Gerald w brown.jpg Gerald W. Brown Nuclear power industry Nuclear power whistleblower Gerald W. Brown was a former firestop contractor and consultant who uncovered the Thermo-lag circuit integrity scandal and silicone foam scandals in U.S. and Canadian nuclear power plants, which led to Congressional proceedings as well as Provincial proceedings in the Canadian Province of Ontario concerning deficiencies in passive fire protection.
2005 Richard Levernier United States Department of Energy

Richard Levernier is an American nuclear power whistleblower. Levernier worked for 23 years as a nuclear security professional, and identified security problems at U.S. nuclear facilities as part of his job. Specifically, after 9/11, he identified problems with contingency planning to protect US nuclear plants from terrorist attacks. He said that the assumption that attackers would both enter and exit from facilities was not valid, since suicide terrorists would not need to exit. In response to this complaint, the U.S. Department of Energy withdrew Levernier's security clearance and he was assigned to clerical work. Levernier approached the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which handles US federal whistleblower matters. It took the OSC four years to vindicate Levernier, ruling that the Department's retaliation was illegal - but the OSC could not reinstate Levernier's security clearance, so he was unable to regain work in nuclear security.[17][18]

Other nuclear whistleblowers include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Whistleblower on Nuclear Plant Safety
  2. ^ The San Jose Three
  3. ^ The Struggle over Nuclear Power
  4. ^ A book chapter which discusses the whistleblowing, written by Vivian Weil, was published in 1983 as "The Browns Ferry Case" in Engineering Professionalism and Ethics, edited by James H. Schaub and Karl Pavlovic, and published by John Wiley & Sons.
  5. ^ Cass Peterson, DOE orders rehiring of whistle-blower, Washington Post, May 5, 1987.
  6. ^ "Correspondent: Israel's Secret Weapon". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  7. ^ Capturing nuclear whistle-blower was `a lucky stroke,' agents recall - Haaretz - Israel News
  8. ^ a b Julie Miller (February 12, 1995). "Paying The Price For Blowing The Whistle". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Boughton, Katherine (10 December 1999). "The Whistleblower: Arnold Gundersen of Goshen". Litchfield County Times. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  10. ^ Eric Pooley. Nuclear Warriors Time Magazine, March 4, 1996.
  11. ^ a b William H. Shaw. Business Ethics 2004, pp. 267-268.
  12. ^ Adam Bowles. A Cry in the Nuclear Wilderness Christianity Today, October 2, 2000.
  13. ^ a b George Galatis, Nuclear Whistleblower Time Magazine, March 4, 1996.
  14. ^ NRC Failure to Adequately Regulate - Millsone Unit 1, 1995
  15. ^ Maralinga - Australia's nuclear waste cover-up, 2 September 2007 (Audio File)
  16. ^ a b Maralinga's nuclear nightmare continues, 2 November 2007, By Phil Shannon, Green Left Weekly issue 730
  17. ^ National Security Whistleblowers in the Post-September 11th Era pp.177-178.
  18. ^ Nuclear power and antiterrorism: obscuring the policy contradictions
  19. ^ Whistleblowing and nonviolence
  20. ^ "DOE from the Perspective of a DOE Safety Employee (Whistle-blower Joe Carson addresses a meeting of sick USEC Paducah workers)". October 31, 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Tom Zeller Jr. (12/04/2012). "Nuclear Power Whistleblowers Charge Federal Regulators With Favoring Secrecy Over Safety". Huff Post Green.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  22. ^ Seabrook Whistleblower Says Power Plant Unsafe
  23. ^ Former Safety Chief Blows Whistle on Poor Safety Culture
  24. ^ a b Falk, Jim (1982). Gobal Fission:The Battle Over Nuclear Power, p. 95.
  25. ^ Court papers: Nuclear feud at Fla. plant
  26. ^ Nuke Watchdog Urges New Look at Whistleblower Case
  27. ^ "Corruption at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory...". December 21, 2001. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 

External links[edit]