Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Faked Radiation Reports at Two German Nuclear Plants: Bad Apples or Nuclear Safety Culture Problem?

According to an article* on German news site The Local, workers at two EnBW** nuclear plants submitted reports for radiation checks that were never performed. 

At the Philippsburg plant, a single subcontractor had been submitting reports based on checks he never carried out.  The consequences were severe—the government has ordered a halt to EnBW’s plans to restart the unit.

At the permanently shutdown Biblis plant, a worker filed faked reports throughout 2014-15.

Our Perspective

Germany intends to shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022.  Perhaps a few employees are shutting down a little early.  Snark aside, maintaining a strong safety culture in the face of an anticipated shutdown (and subsequent job losses) is a significant challenge for any organization in any industry but it is especially acute in the nuclear space where the actions of a single distracted, unmotivated or alienated individual can lead to significant regulatory, political, public relations and/or physical plant problems.

*  “Inspectors faked safety checks at two nuclear plants,” The Local (April 15, 2016).

**  Energie Baden-W├╝rttemberg AG, a German electric utility company.


  1. Is it time for IAEA, NRC, INPO, and NEI to commit openly to integrity being an essential trait of the good safety culture?


    Integrity is achieved when individuals, groups, and organizations do not falsify, fabricate, mislead, misrepresent, turn a blind eye, plagiarize, obfuscate, or otherwise deceive and do not tolerate those who do. Integrity is achieved by owning up to shortfalls. The integrity of individuals reflects the integrity of their leaders.


  2. • Extent of Intellectual Corruption

    An inescapable fact is that lack of competence, integrity, compliance, and/or transparency at any location/ site/ unit/ level of an organization has never been found to be confined to that entity . Moral pathogens propagate.

    Mediocrity penetrates most interfaces, but excellence is often confined to the stovepipe it started in.

    “There is a Gresham’s Law of safety culture. The bad drives out the good.”

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"-Upton Sinclair

    Observation: Would you be surprised to find that the lack of competence, integrity, compliance, and transparency that came to light from the Flint, Michigan lead contamination episodes is common to other local, state, and federal programs?

    Observation: Today’s scandalous fiasco is not likely to be an island of incompetence in a sea of excellence.


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