GAO's Analysis of Alleged Health and Safety Violations at the Navy's Nuclear Power Training Unit at Windsor, Connecticut

EMD-81-19: Published: Nov 19, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1980.

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The Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit at Windsor, Connecticut, one of eight naval prototype nuclear propulsion facilities in the country, is used exclusively for training purposes. Two former instructors assigned to the Windsor facility made 17 specific allegations of radiation and industrial safety and health violations at the facility. These allegations dealt with matters such as (1) valves which leaked radioactive water and steam, (2) personnel exposure to asbestos dust, (3) frequent malfunctions that caused unplanned facility shutdowns, and (4) improper disposal of contaminated materials. GAO was requested to conduct an investigation into these allegations.

The GAO evaluation was conducted about 1 year after the events forming the bases for the allegations occurred. These events were not of a continuing nature, but were confined to specific time periods ranging from a few minutes to a few days. Because GAO had to rely on Windsor facility records surrounding the events and on interviews with personnel assigned to the facility, the results of the evaluation should be qualified. No evidence of any basic health- and safety-related weakness was revealed in the facility's operations. Although five of the allegations did involve violations of established procedures, none involved radiation exposure to personnel. Only one of the five violations was potentially dangerous. In that case, a serious personnel injury could have occurred. Corrective actions have been taken to prevent recurrence of the violations in all five of the cases.

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