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San Onofre safety inspector forced out?

Lawsuit suggests Vinod Arora was doing his job too well

A former San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station engineer and inspector claims he was forced out of his job by plant operator Southern California Edison as retaliation for raising safety and security concerns in a newly filed lawsuit.

Vinod Arora says his problems started in January 2012, when he produced a report critical of plant maintenance director Bob Sholler over fire-safety concerns related to maintenance activities. The plant went into emergency shutdown over leaking steam-generator tubes a short time later, but in April, a seemingly unrelated electrical fire broke out at the plant, which led to later allegations of decades of fire concerns.

Instead of addressing the problems in his report, Arora says nuclear-oversight director Oscar Flores brought him to Sholler's office and demanded that Arora apologize for writing the report.

Arora's complaint claims that he was immune from retaliation for reporting his concerns under the Energy Reorganization Act.

Shortly after the Sholler incident, Arora says he again warned supervisors that a lack of monitoring increased the risk of a reactor fire. He later faced "insults and harassment" from Flores and his supervisor, Russ Nielsen, after reporting safety conflicts between Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the failed steam generators that eventually shuttered the reactors permanently. Arora claims he was forced by superiors to cancel a complaint seeking resolution of the dispute.

Arora continued finding faults in his inspections, attempting to follow up on an anonymous report that 1300 plant employees had failed to complete mandatory cyber-security training; he also emailed Mitsubishi and Edison officials directly with a warning about potential problems in one of the reactors.

His efforts resulted in escalating problems with supervisors, the complaint says. Arora was forced to submit to drug and psychological tests, received allegedly falsified write-ups for missing work or showing up late, and "corporate investigators began to monitor Arora's actions and watch him carefully throughout his daily activities."

Though Arora's work continued after a fall on the job in January 2012 resulted in injuries to his arm and elbow, he says that Edison used the injuries — combined with "unreasonable deadlines" being set for him to complete assignments and the aforementioned harassment — to force him to resign.

Arora claims the resignation amounted to a constructive termination due to the pressures he faced before leaving Edison. According to a Courthouse News Service report, he seeks damages for "constructive termination, breach of implied contract, breach of faith, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress."

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A former San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station engineer and inspector claims he was forced out of his job by plant operator Southern California Edison as retaliation for raising safety and security concerns in a newly filed lawsuit.

Vinod Arora says his problems started in January 2012, when he produced a report critical of plant maintenance director Bob Sholler over fire-safety concerns related to maintenance activities. The plant went into emergency shutdown over leaking steam-generator tubes a short time later, but in April, a seemingly unrelated electrical fire broke out at the plant, which led to later allegations of decades of fire concerns.

Instead of addressing the problems in his report, Arora says nuclear-oversight director Oscar Flores brought him to Sholler's office and demanded that Arora apologize for writing the report.

Arora's complaint claims that he was immune from retaliation for reporting his concerns under the Energy Reorganization Act.

Shortly after the Sholler incident, Arora says he again warned supervisors that a lack of monitoring increased the risk of a reactor fire. He later faced "insults and harassment" from Flores and his supervisor, Russ Nielsen, after reporting safety conflicts between Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the failed steam generators that eventually shuttered the reactors permanently. Arora claims he was forced by superiors to cancel a complaint seeking resolution of the dispute.

Arora continued finding faults in his inspections, attempting to follow up on an anonymous report that 1300 plant employees had failed to complete mandatory cyber-security training; he also emailed Mitsubishi and Edison officials directly with a warning about potential problems in one of the reactors.

His efforts resulted in escalating problems with supervisors, the complaint says. Arora was forced to submit to drug and psychological tests, received allegedly falsified write-ups for missing work or showing up late, and "corporate investigators began to monitor Arora's actions and watch him carefully throughout his daily activities."

Though Arora's work continued after a fall on the job in January 2012 resulted in injuries to his arm and elbow, he says that Edison used the injuries — combined with "unreasonable deadlines" being set for him to complete assignments and the aforementioned harassment — to force him to resign.

Arora claims the resignation amounted to a constructive termination due to the pressures he faced before leaving Edison. According to a Courthouse News Service report, he seeks damages for "constructive termination, breach of implied contract, breach of faith, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress."

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Comments
4

Always wonder what the real story is there. Watched the China Syndrome again last weekend. They really have to stop poisoning our lives and covering it up.

Jan. 20, 2014

FYI All nuclear plant employees with that level of access are "forced to submit to drug and psychological tests" so I don't see that as harassment.

Jan. 21, 2014

Southern California now has a new HERO that is not even a professional athlete!

Vinod Arora was the safety auditor at San Onofre and will be a key witness at both the NRC and the CPUC investigations into not only what happened at San Onofre but just as important, when SCE was told that what they were doing was not going to work!

Now San Onofre is being decommissioned and at stake are the Billions of dollars that either SoCal ratepayers or SCE & SDG&E shareholders will have to pay...

Jan. 21, 2014

I'd like to nominate Vinod Arora for the now open position of CPUC Commissioner, who better to speak out for ratepayers against unfair Utility practices and increased safety?

Jan. 21, 2014

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