Nuclear plant employee charged with lying on inspection reports

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn.
AP Photo/Tennessee Valley Authority
Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn. AP Photo/Tennessee Valley Authority

By CBS Investigates Intern Aurora Ellis

A worker at a Tennessee nuclear power plant was indicted this week for lying on inspection reports, according to Eastern Tennessee U.S. Attorney's office.

Court papers filed March 22 allege that Matthew David Correll, 31, willingly lied on documents last August in which he stated he had measured safety system cables intended for a new nuclear power plant to be constructed at the Watts Bar Nuclear Facility in Spring City even though he did not perform this inspection.

"The falsification of records is a serious matter, particularly when the records in question involve safety cables at a nuclear power plant," David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists told CBS News.

The cables Correll is charged with lying about inspecting were intended to provide electric power to operate safety systems and other equipment in a nuclear power plant being constructed by the Bechtel Power Corporation.

In court today in Chattanooga, Tenn., Correll pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against him. A woman who answered the phone at his residence declined to discuss the charges when contacted this afternoon by CBS News.

Correll's indictment is the result of an investigation initiated by the Tennessee Valley Authority Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Scott Brooks, a spokesman for the Tennessee Valley Authority, told CBS News, "I couldn't speculate on what his motivation was. We're just glad the system worked the way it was supposed to and it was uncovered."

Correll had been employed by Williams Specialty Services, a subcontractor for the Bechtel Power Corporation, at the time he allegedly falsified inspection reports but his employment with the company ended in September.

"Williams learned of the indictment today and was unaware that federal prosecutors were pursuing this action," Anne Bryant, a spokesperson for Williams Speciality Services told CBS News.