Whistleblowing case has ramifications for an entire industry.
Anthony P. X. (Tony) Bothwell, a San Francisco-based attorney, has represented nuclear whistleblowers since the 1990s. He was a corporate communications officer for Florida Power & Light and Wisconsin Power & Light in the 1970s and 1980s, and served on energy-ethics advisory panels of the Edison Electric Institute and other industry groups.
Should whistleblower-protection provisions of the federal Energy Reorganization Act protect an employee of a small firm that has a staff augmentation contract with a regulated nuclear energy technology company? The battle of the briefs has been blazing in a federal case set to answer that question.
The case involves a supplier of control-room instrumentation for Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). A negative outcome could unravel safety conscious work environment (SCWE) programs currently protecting employees and contractors in nuclear facilities nationwide. The legal fallout may have implications for utilities, vendors and others. A review of the case suggests ways that nuclear utilities can guard against unwelcome litigation.