Former Dresden Nuclear Plant Workers Banned by NRC

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued orders on Oct. 28 prohibiting two former employees of the Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Morris, Ill., from participating in nuclear work under its jurisdiction. The two were implicated in an incident involving violations of the Behavioral Observation Program.

Even without the order, the workers in question are unlikely to ever set foot in a nuclear plant again. The incident involved two senior reactor operators who worked at the Dresden plant. In a drama that might seem more suitable for a Hollywood movie script, one of the men, Michael J. Buhrman, planned to rob an armored car and recruited the assistance of a colleague, Landon E. Brittain.

The plan was foiled when Buhrman was apprehended following a carjacking, which took place in a Kohl’s department store parking lot on May 9, 2012. The pair intended to use the car during the robbery.

The incident got even more bizarre when both men fled the country while free on bail. Brittain was arrested in Venezuela in June 2013, and has since been extradited back to the U.S. He is currently awaiting trial in the DuPage (Ill.) County Jail. Buhrman was reportedly arrested in Venezuela recently as well, although the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office would only confirm that he still had two warrants active for his arrest and that he was not currently housed in the county’s jail.

In addition, Dresden personnel who knew about Buhrman’s plan to commit an offsite crime failed to report the situation to plant management, which is an NRC requirement for workers who have unescorted access to the plant.

“We expect nuclear workers to be trustworthy and feel responsible for plant safety. This includes alerting management should they encounter questionable behavior in other workers. Plants must have effective programs and training to make sure employees adhere to these standards,” said NRC Region III Administrator Cynthia D. Pederson. “The incident at Dresden shows a failure to adhere to NRC requirements. This situation was unusual; we do not normally encounter this type of egregious behavior in plant workers. For this reason, the NRC has taken strong regulatory action against the individuals involved and the plant.”

Exelon, the owner and operator of the plant, has agreed to address the issues according to the timelines established in the order and to notify the NRC in writing upon completion of specific actions.

—Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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