D.C. firm picked for Richland nuclear plant investigation

Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station north of Richland
Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station north of Richland Tri-City Herald

A Washington, D.C., law firm has been selected to investigate allegations in anonymous letters received by members of Energy Northwest’s governing board concerning the nuclear power plant near Richland.

The Pillsbury law firm is expected to begin work next week and issue its preliminary findings to the Energy Northwest Executive Board on Feb. 24 in the Tri-Cities.

The letters accused Energy Northwest executives of concealing information about the subpar performance of Columbia Generating Station. The letters indicated they were written by unnamed employees.

Energy Northwest has said that performance metrics fell at the nuclear plant during a maintenance and refueling outage, but that work during the outage should improve performance long term. Allegations also were made about security issues.

An executive board committee picked Pillsbury from among three firms submitting bids. It liked Pillsbury’s relative independence. The firm’s only prior work for Energy Northwest involved a second opinion on litigation with the Department of Energy over used nuclear fuel.