TVA’s latest nuclear disaster?

TVA’s latest nuclear disaster?
January 31, 2011

Most Americans have been edgy in the nuclear age since World War II and at best they still are skeptical about the control of nuclear weapons and their proliferation. More and more countries are figuring out how to manufacture the necessary components to make bombs, large and small. While North Korea continues to be a threat to the world community, Iran holds the diciest hand in the nuclear deck today.

That is why the Tennessee Valley Authority’s action on Friday January 28 is so disturbing. With an Iranian born nuclear engineer with dual citizenship in charge of the completion of a $3 billion nuclear reactor, Watts Bar 2, it is imperative that TVA provide some answers quickly.

On Friday the manager, Masoud Bajestani, a highly paid nuclear expert, was escorted off the nuclear site premises by two armed nuclear security guards. And similarly was escorted on and off the site on Saturday to pick up his personal belongings. Apparently, he was fired. For no stated reason.

Here’s where the apparent coverup seems to be at this time. TVA will say nothing about his dismissal except that another person was now in charge of the remaining work to complete the old Watts Bar 2 reactor. With the reputation of being a hothead, Bajestani apparently threw things around his office using obscene language and one report says he was in a fight.

Most disturbing was testimony given at his divorce suit appeal last August where he admitted fraudulently receiving a large sum of money from TVA for “hardship” reasons. Part of that money it seems, some $600,000 of it, was illegally sent to his brother in Iran for “investment” purposes through a Canadian bank. The whereabouts of that money sent to Iran is unknown according to his testimony.
Also there are reports that his father works on large construction projects in Iran similar to Bajestiani’s work in America.

Now maybe Homeland Security already has its eye on Bajestiani for obvious reasons, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the SEC, CIA or the FBI. He certainly appears to be a risk to the TVA and his nuclear work there.

The sound of TVA’s silence has been deafening, again putting itself in an untenable position similar to the attempted coverup of the Kingston disaster.

In the aftermath of Kingston, CEO Kilgore said a reorganization of the TVA was needed to prevent similar problems. Well, that massive staff reorganization is now complete with many reporting layers between actual events and the CEO. To hold himself harmless, he can try to say, “Look, I’m not to blame”. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. If a twig is bent on the Tennessee River causing damage, it is the CEO who is responsible ultimately regardless of the numbers of reporting layers.

TVA’s style is reactive and it immediately circles the wagons as in its many silos still in operation.

Here are some questions the TVA needs to answer:

• Was this a source of a national security breach?

• Was there a failure on TVA’s part to recognize the fraud of Bajestiani’s request to withdraw a large sum of money from the TVA for “hardship” reasons when there were none?

• Was TVA aware of the statements and implications in Bajestani’s divorce proceedings that shed a very bad light on the TVA and which should have precipitated formal action by TVA?

• When (or if) there was a security clearance on Bajestiani?

• It’s the “what did you know and when did you know it” about Bajestiani. Only TVA can answer that one.

• Has TVA reported this matter to the NRC, SEC, Homeland Security and the FBI for possible further investigation?

Because of the way TVA has mishandled this potential national security breach, does TVA put the American people at risk? I’ll answer that one, “yes”.

Ernest Norsworthy

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