Statement by Dr. Kymn Harvin
NRC-PSEG Public Meeting
June 16, 2004
Bridgeport, New Jersey
I am Dr. Nancy Kymn Harvin, former Organization Development leader at PSEG Nuclear and one of the people who sparked the NRC’s investigation of Salem and Hope Creek.
It is good to see so many familiar people, some who I regard with the utmost respect, friends I formerly worked with. I appreciate the warm welcome. I do, however, wish we were meeting under different circumstances.
I do want to say that I am disappointed Mr. Ferland is not here tonight. It was no accident that the NRC’s public letter of January 28, 2004 was addressed to Mr. Ferland. Yet, Mr. Ferland is not here tonight and did not attended the previous public meeting either. I find this disrespectful and disappointing.
As Mr. Miller said, “There is a legacy here that is quite long.” As someone who worked at Salem and Hope Creek for five years and knows the inside story of many of the issues discussed tonight, I’d like to offer my perspective on some of what we have heard tonight and on moving forward.
But first I want to express my appreciation to the loyal and dedicated people who work at the site. It is because of you that the public has remained safe, that there has not been an accident, a tragedy, a nuclear event. You have our gratitude and support. And our commitment to insuring the issues plaguing your workplace get addressed. Mr. Bakken, please pass along our gratitude.
We’ve heard the assessment results. They paint a bleak picture. Yet there is more to the story. Let me offer my perspective of what has happened just in the last year, since I was fired for challenging my boss, the Chief Nuclear Officer, about safety issues. Ironic, isn’t it, that the person charged with fostering an open and safe-to-speak-up work environment is fired for championing NEO [Nuclear Equipment Operator] and management’s safety issues.
For PSEG Nuclear to overcome all these odds, it will take leadership not yet seen.
Leadership that demands the best, yet makes no one feel small when falling short. Leadership that makes doing anything unsafe, unthinkable, yet compels peoples’ highest productivity. Leadership that remembers people are good, families are important, and there’s more to life than work.
It will take leadership that stands up to the pressures of profits and corporate politics. Leadership that fosters other great leaders, never wanting to be the only one. It will take equal amounts of brains, courage, heart, resilience, and confidence. Most of all it will take a leader whose caring for the people is matched by his caring for the public and industry he serves. He doesn’t cross the line. He does nothing dishonorable. He makes a new name for Salem and Hope Creek.
In short, it will take one of the best leaders the nuclear industry has ever had.
In the days, months and years ahead, the people of Salem and Hope Creek will be challenged to overcome a culture of mediocrity. Let me be clear about this: This culture is not the fault of the people. It was set by the highest officer Jim Ferland years ago when he said at an All Hands Meeting, “Mediocrity is okay as long as it is cost-effective.” Despite slogans to the contrary about being world class, about being top quartile, about Safety First, his message permeated the site like the plague. It ate away at us. My former boss, Chief Nuclear Officer Harry Keiser said it plainly: “When people figure out what the real game is, if they have any integrity, they have to leave. They can’t stand the bullshit.” A chilling statement when the stakes are so high….this is nuclear power.
Mediocrity and production pressure have so permeated Salem and Hope Creek that that is now what the site is known for. As a friend of mine was told when he went to the INPO Senior Plant Managers Course and said he was from Salem, “Oh, you’re from the plant that does anything to stay on-line.”
That wasn’t just a casual or snide remark. Make no mistake. There is irrefutable evidence that the "production-over-safety" line has been crossed by the senior officers of this company. And that mistruths have been told. I believe mistruths have been told at this meeting tonight, including the statement there was never any direct pressure from Corporate for non-conservative decision-making.
In the Independent Assessment Team report, “site leadership” was blamed over and over again for the production pressure, a vague scapegoating of people no longer there. Sometimes that production pressure was caused by direct communication from Mr. Ferland and Mr. Cassidy. I intend to prove that in a court of law if need be.
Consider this statement:
9 Going forward, I and everyone on the PSE&G team
10 assures you that the quality of our people, the processes,
11 and the plant will remain at the required high levels of
12 performance to assure the the station operates safely and
14 If safety ever becomes a problem, if any one of us
15 is not satisfied with performance, we will do what we have
16 done in the past. That is, we’ll take conservative action,
17 and that may include shutting the plant down. We don’t
18 expect to have to do that.
Those words were spoken by PSEG Chairman Jim Ferland, not this year or last year, but in 1997 in a public meeting with the NRC. As we now know from the assessment data discussed this evening, there are 73 of 90 areas where performance is lacking. Mr. Ferland promised then that conservative action, including shutting down, would occur if performance was not satisfactory. Yet Salem and Hope Creek continue to operate despite over 70 important areas being deemed by independent assessors as “less than competent.” In my book, and I hope in yours, that is unacceptable…and unacceptable leadership.
Since Mr. Ferland obviously won’t hold to his word, the NRC should force PSEG’s hand. Even tonight Mr. Cassidy said, “Mediocre performance is an unacceptable risk.” If this is true, Mr. Cassidy—and I believe it is—why are you allowing three nuclear reactors to continue to operate?
Mr. Ferland’s poor leadership practices, a polite characterization of improper and possibly illegal behavior, have been followed by others. Improprieties are widely known by employees at the site, yet unaddressed by the Board of Directors and, so far, the NRC.
In many ways, all of this adds up to unacknowledged cracks in the hull of the ship that will ultimately sink the Enterprise. The only hope is if the ship is brought to shore, the cracks exposed, and the hard, tedious work of repair is undertaken.
For real progress to be achieved at PSEG Nuclear, the journey must begin with acknowledging the legacy that has been generated from the top, even before deregulation occurred. For company officers, it will be like passing through the eye of the needle. Unthinkable in most corporate circles; unavoidable in this one. The only other way out is resignation or dismissal.
At the site, other bold and courageous steps are required to cure the ills and right the wrongs. Answers are not found inside the box, within the hierarchy, or from the status quo.
PSEG’s next Chief Nuclear Officer is a favored son. Many already believe in him from his former
days at Salem. His honesty, integrity,
caring for the people and the plant are refreshing…and unparalleled. Yet the question remains whether Mr. Bakken
will have the power, the freedom, the fortitude, and the political will to
chart a new course for PSEG. His
unfettered leadership offers the best chance for Salem and Hope Creek moving
out of the bottom quartile, of insuring the long-term viability of the site and
jobs, and of serving the public interest.
I see three immediate actions PSEG can take to prove it is serious about improvement and excellence.
This will clearly demonstrate people and safety come first. This will clearly demonstrate who is in charge.
This will clearly demonstrate a willingness to replace mediocrity with excellence.
This will build trust and begin to restore integrity.
These legacy-altering actions are not for the faint of heart. They break the mold. They raise the bar. They transform, not change. Implemented, they will become the legacy of one of the best leaders the nuclear industry has ever seen. And a nuclear site soon known for beating all the odds.
Any actions that fall short of addressing the root issues at that site will only perpetuate the past. The public, the people of Salem and Hope Creek, and the industry deserve better.
It is time for both the NRC and PSEG to stand and deliver.