Feds: Hixson man faked inspection records at nuclear plant - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Feds: Hixson man faked inspection records at nuclear plant

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Cooling towers at Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant. / Courtesy TVA Cooling towers at Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant. / Courtesy TVA

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – A Hixson man is facing federal charges of falsifying paperwork on a nuclear power plant.

Matthew David Correll, 31, was indicted on two counts of making false statements.

According to the indictment, Correll falsified documents, claiming he had measured and inspected electrical work for a safety system at the Watts Bar Nuclear facility.

The indictment contends that Correll never made the measurements or the inspections that he claimed in the TVA-required forms.

[READ: Indictment against Matthew Correll]

"We always take the falsification of federal records very seriously, especially given the nature of these records at these facilities. Cutting corners on the construction of our nuclear power plants is a serious matter. Our prosecution will be vigorous and thorough," said US Attorney Bill Killian said in a release.

If convicted of both counts, Correll faces up to 10 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and 6 years of supervised release.

Correll pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday. A trial date has been set for May 23.



KNOXVILLE (AP) - Federal prosecutors are filing charges related to the only U.S. site where a nuclear reactor is under construction, officials said Thursday.

Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman Scott Brooks told The Associated Press that the charges prosecutors are announcing Thursday relate to the utility's Watts Bar facility in Spring City, which is north of Chattanooga.

A U.S. Attorney's office statement said prosecutors won't discuss the case until a news conference later Thursday in Knoxville. The TVA inspector general is expected to attend.

Brooks told the AP he didn't know much about the charges because the inspector general works independently from the Knoxville-based utility. Brooks did say the case is not directly related to the abrupt departure of the former construction site manager at Watts Bar.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission letter in January cited TVA "errors and omissions" in a project fire protection report and excessive delays in providing information. The letter called on TVA to promptly supply information for its review of an application for a reactor operating license.

Soon after the letter was received, site vice president Masoud Bajestani abruptly left his job overseeing the construction project. TVA wouldn't provide details about his departure, calling it a personnel matter, but the utility has contended it wasn't related to the NRC letter.

TVA said in February that it was addressing the NRC concerns and still expected to have the reactor completed on time in 2012.

TVA is spending $2.5 billion over five years to build the 1,200-megawatt reactor, which is expected to supply electricity to 650,000 homes. The Watts Bar Unit 1 reactor started operating in 1996.

TVA, the nation's largest public utility, supplies power to customers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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