Public Interest Groups Reach Settlement to Unseal Court Documents on Nuclear Generator Safety
——————————————————————— For more information on defective Westinghouse steam generators and the lawsuits filed by utilities, read the executive summary of a 1994 report by Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project titled “Westinghouse: Leaks and Lawsuits”. To see the summary, go to http://www.essential.org/CMEP and view the publications list in the nuclear safety section. ———————————————————————- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 25, 1996 FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael McCauley, TLPJ, 202-797-8600 Lucinda Sikes, Public Citizen, 202-588-1000 Alan Nogee, UCS, 617-547-5552 PUBLIC INTEREST GROUPS REACH SETTLEMENT TO UNSEAL COURT DOCUMENTS ON NUCLEAR GENERATOR SAFETY Key Documents Alleging That Westinghouse Knew its Steam Generators Were Prone to Dangerous Corrosion and Cracking to be Made Public Public Citizen, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ) and the Union of Concerned Scientists announced today that they have reached settlements with Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Duquesne Light Company to unseal court documents about faulty nuclear reactor steam generators. The settlements will make public for the first time documents that were sealed during the litigation of Duquesne Light Company v. Westinghouse Electric Corporation, a suit which alleged that Westinghouse knew, but intentionally concealed, that its steam generator tubing was susceptible to corrosion and cracking. At the conclusion of the trial in Duquesne, the jury ruled in favor of Westinghouse — a judgment which was upheld on appeal. The appellate court did not reach the issue of whether the steam generators purchased by the utility for its Beaver Valley Units 1 and 2 electric facility in Shippingport, Pennsylvania were actually defective or whether Westinghouse knew of its defects. “While Duquesne’s allegations against Westinghouse did not prevail at trial, some of the utility’s key evidence was never introduced to the jury,” said Public Citizen staff attorney Lucinda Sikes. “As a result of this settlement, the public will finally have access to all of the evidence Duquesne discovered to support its allegations of fraud and design defect.” “For years, Westinghouse has sought to hide these potentially damaging documents from public scrutiny,” said TLPJ lead counsel Michael Louik of Pittsburgh’s Kapetan, Meyers, Rosen, Louik & Raizman. “This settlement unseals them and vindicates the public’s right to know.” “Defective steam generators pose a financial risk to ratepayers and a safety hazard to those living near nuclear reactors,” said Alan Nogee, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Making these documents public is critically important so that we can better assess the true extent of these risks.” In September 1994, TLPJ and Public Citizen successfully intervened in Duquesne on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project to unseal court records concerning the generators’ safety. The case, which was then pending before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, had undergone comprehensive discovery and extensive briefing, but many of the documents submitted to the court were placed under seal pursuant to protective orders approved by the court. At the time, however, the court declined to rule on a motion filed by the groups to unseal the documents, since the trial was pending. At the conclusion of the trial, TLPJ and Public Citizen filed supplemental motions with the District Court seeking to make public those court documents that had not been unsealed during the trial. Under the terms of the settlement, the companies have agreed to unseal a number of key documents, including the summary judgment materials, the parties’ pre-trial statements, and more than 400 exhibits that Duquesne had produced supporting its allegations against Westinghouse. Over the last decade, safe energy advocates have sought to obtain documents about the hazards posed by Westinghouse-produced steam generators in nuclear reactors around the country. Westinghouse, the nation’s preeminent manufacturer of nuclear power plants, has been sued at least 14 times by utilities because of the allegedly defective generators, but has successfully secured protective orders sealing court documents in each case. Defective steam generators pose both a financial and safety risk for consumers. Replacement costs range from $150 million to $200 million per reactor. Operating a reactor with degraded generator tubes increases the risk of a meltdown and catastrophic release of radiation into the environment. TLPJ’s involvement in this case is part of Project ACCESS, its nationwide campaign against unnecessary court secrecy. Through Project ACCESS, TLPJ helps victims oppose unduly restrictive protective orders, intervenes in specific cases to fight for the public’s right to know, and educates citizens about the problems posed by litigation conducted in secret. TLPJ’s Leslie Brueckner and Public Citizen’s Colette Matzzie assisted Sikes and Louik in successfully intervening in Duquesne to unseal the court documents. ### Public Citizen is a non-profit, member-supported, consumer advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader in 1971. Public Citizen does not accept government or corporate funds. Founded in 1982, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice is the only public interest law firm in the country specializing in precedent-setting damage and trial litigation. Utilizing a network of more than 1,500 of the nation’s outstanding trial lawyers, TLPJ has a wide-ranging litigation docket in the areas of toxic torts, environmental protection, consumer rights, worker safety, civil rights and liberties, and access to the courts. The Union of Concerned Scientists is dedicated to advocating responsible public policy in areas where science and technology play a critical role. Established in 1969, UCS has created a unique alliance between many of nation’s leading scientists and thousands of committed citizens. This partnership addresses the most serious environmental and security threats facing humanity.