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Safety Culture

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OPINION
April 26, 2011 | By Najmedin Meshkati
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station sits on a beach in a seismically active area of Southern California, just three miles south of San Clemente. These days many are rightly preoccupied with the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan and its implications for San Onofre. But there are more immediate problems at the power plant that is owned and operated by Southern California Edison. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be holding a public meeting Thursday in San Juan Capistrano to review the performance and safety culture of San Onofre.
ARTICLES BY DATE
NATIONAL
February 18, 2014 | By Ralph Vartabedian
The head of nuclear safety for the cleanup of the former nuclear weapons site at Hanford, Wash., was fired Tuesday after allegations she made over several years that the construction project was ignoring serious safety problems. Donna Busche, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., said executives at the company told her she was being fired for “unprofessional conduct” before she was escorted out of the company's offices at the site in central Washington. The company denied that her dismissal was punitive or connected to her criticism of the project.
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NATIONAL
October 3, 2013 | By Ralph Vartabedian
When senior scientist Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 about fundamental design flaws at the nation's largest facility to treat radioactive waste in Hanford, Wash., he was assigned to work in a basement room without office furniture or a telephone. On Wednesday, Tamosaitis, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., was laid off from his job after 44 years with the company. The concerns that Tamosaitis raised two years ago about the design of the waste treatment plant, a $12.3-billion industrial complex that would turn highly radioactive sludge into glass, were validated by federal investigators.
NATIONAL
October 9, 2013 | By Ralph Vartabedian
Two U.S. senators angered by the firing of whistle-blower Walter Tamosaitis from the contaminated Hanford, Wash., nuclear site sharply criticized the U.S. secretary of Energy on Wednesday.  Tamosaitis, an engineer, had raised safety concerns two years ago about the design of a plant that is intended to turn radioactive waste into glass. After that, San Francisco-based URS Corp. took away his staff and assigned him to a basement office without furniture or a telephone. Last week, Tamosaitis was laid off in what the company called a cost-cutting move.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 13, 1999
As the full story about the nuclear criticality accident in Japan unfolds, a few root causes for the accident have emerged. The two commentaries (Perspectives on Safety, Oct. 1), while properly referring to one of the reasons for the accident, the issue of safety culture, do not go far enough. In Japan, the government body responsible for safety oversight in the nuclear fuel industry is the Science and Technology Agency, which also promotes and develops nuclear power (like the U.S. Department of Energy)
NATIONAL
August 26, 2010 | By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times
Federal investigators Thursday hammered away at a corporate culture at BP that they said had failed to learn from deadly accidents and other incidents, including the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 workers. The panel investigating the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, which killed 11 workers and started the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, portrayed the oil giant as ignoring past mistakes and not effectively emphasizing safety. "If you don't change the safety culture for the entire company, you're going to have incidents," lead investigator Hung Nguyen told a BP executive as the joint Coast Guard- Interior Department hearings continued in Houston.
NATIONAL
October 9, 2013 | By Ralph Vartabedian
Two U.S. senators angered by the firing of whistle-blower Walter Tamosaitis from the contaminated Hanford, Wash., nuclear site sharply criticized the U.S. secretary of Energy on Wednesday.  Tamosaitis, an engineer, had raised safety concerns two years ago about the design of a plant that is intended to turn radioactive waste into glass. After that, San Francisco-based URS Corp. took away his staff and assigned him to a basement office without furniture or a telephone. Last week, Tamosaitis was laid off in what the company called a cost-cutting move.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 10, 1997 | JEFFREY L. RABIN and RICHARD SIMON, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
An independent audit calling the injury rate on the Los Angeles subway project worse than the national average prompted officials Thursday to order an extraordinary half-day halt to construction so workers can review safety rules. The safety audit--which had been kept out of public view--was released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday, a day after a subway construction worker in Universal City became the third fatality this year on the troubled project.
NATIONAL
February 18, 2014 | By Ralph Vartabedian
The head of nuclear safety for the cleanup of the former nuclear weapons site at Hanford, Wash., was fired Tuesday after allegations she made over several years that the construction project was ignoring serious safety problems. Donna Busche, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., said executives at the company told her she was being fired for “unprofessional conduct” before she was escorted out of the company's offices at the site in central Washington. The company denied that her dismissal was punitive or connected to her criticism of the project.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 23, 2012 | By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
Hundreds of Metro transit workers — many of whom operate the trains and buses that carry 1.5 million riders daily — say they have concerns about their on-the-job safety. Of 745 employees who responded to a workplace survey at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a large majority of mechanics, track workers, bus drivers, train operators and others described their workplace as somewhat safe, not very safe or not safe at all. A significant number of employees, particularly those who operate and repair transit systems, also believe their supervisors are concerned about safety only when there is a serious accident.
NATIONAL
October 3, 2013 | By Ralph Vartabedian
When senior scientist Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 about fundamental design flaws at the nation's largest facility to treat radioactive waste in Hanford, Wash., he was assigned to work in a basement room without office furniture or a telephone. On Wednesday, Tamosaitis, an employee of San Francisco-based URS Corp., was laid off from his job after 44 years with the company. The concerns that Tamosaitis raised two years ago about the design of the waste treatment plant, a $12.3-billion industrial complex that would turn highly radioactive sludge into glass, were validated by federal investigators.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 23, 2012 | By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
Hundreds of Metro transit workers — many of whom operate the trains and buses that carry 1.5 million riders daily — say they have concerns about their on-the-job safety. Of 745 employees who responded to a workplace survey at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a large majority of mechanics, track workers, bus drivers, train operators and others described their workplace as somewhat safe, not very safe or not safe at all. A significant number of employees, particularly those who operate and repair transit systems, also believe their supervisors are concerned about safety only when there is a serious accident.
OPINION
April 26, 2011 | By Najmedin Meshkati
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station sits on a beach in a seismically active area of Southern California, just three miles south of San Clemente. These days many are rightly preoccupied with the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan and its implications for San Onofre. But there are more immediate problems at the power plant that is owned and operated by Southern California Edison. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be holding a public meeting Thursday in San Juan Capistrano to review the performance and safety culture of San Onofre.
NATIONAL
August 26, 2010 | By Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times
Federal investigators Thursday hammered away at a corporate culture at BP that they said had failed to learn from deadly accidents and other incidents, including the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 workers. The panel investigating the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, which killed 11 workers and started the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, portrayed the oil giant as ignoring past mistakes and not effectively emphasizing safety. "If you don't change the safety culture for the entire company, you're going to have incidents," lead investigator Hung Nguyen told a BP executive as the joint Coast Guard- Interior Department hearings continued in Houston.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 24, 2006 | By Elizabeth Douglass, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Managers at the state's largest nuclear plant won safety bonuses for years by hiding employees' on-the-job injuries and dodging state reporting rules, employees of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station said in testimony during nine days of regulatory hearings this month. To avoid reporting employee injuries, safety managers at the plant tried to persuade doctors to close wounds with Steri-Strips in lieu of stitches or to issue over-the-counter medications instead of ordering prescription drugs, the employees said.
NEWS
March 23, 2000 | KIM MURPHY, TIMES STAFF WRITER
First, there were the pigeons: hundreds that spent part of their day feeding in the garden of a rural English cottage, and part of their day brooding atop radiation-contaminated buildings at British Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s Sellafield complex a few miles away. The garden was found to be so contaminated that workers in protective suits had to come in, wring the necks of 700 radioactive pigeons and dispose of them as low-level nuclear waste.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 24, 2006 | By Elizabeth Douglass, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Managers at the state's largest nuclear plant won safety bonuses for years by hiding employees' on-the-job injuries and dodging state reporting rules, employees of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station said in testimony during nine days of regulatory hearings this month. To avoid reporting employee injuries, safety managers at the plant tried to persuade doctors to close wounds with Steri-Strips in lieu of stitches or to issue over-the-counter medications instead of ordering prescription drugs, the employees said.
NEWS
March 23, 2000 | KIM MURPHY, TIMES STAFF WRITER
First, there were the pigeons: hundreds that spent part of their day feeding in the garden of a rural English cottage, and part of their day brooding atop radiation-contaminated buildings at British Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s Sellafield complex a few miles away. The garden was found to be so contaminated that workers in protective suits had to come in, wring the necks of 700 radioactive pigeons and dispose of them as low-level nuclear waste.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 13, 1999
As the full story about the nuclear criticality accident in Japan unfolds, a few root causes for the accident have emerged. The two commentaries (Perspectives on Safety, Oct. 1), while properly referring to one of the reasons for the accident, the issue of safety culture, do not go far enough. In Japan, the government body responsible for safety oversight in the nuclear fuel industry is the Science and Technology Agency, which also promotes and develops nuclear power (like the U.S. Department of Energy)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 10, 1997 | JEFFREY L. RABIN and RICHARD SIMON, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
An independent audit calling the injury rate on the Los Angeles subway project worse than the national average prompted officials Thursday to order an extraordinary half-day halt to construction so workers can review safety rules. The safety audit--which had been kept out of public view--was released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday, a day after a subway construction worker in Universal City became the third fatality this year on the troubled project.
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