published Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Watts Bar project chief replaced suddenly

The Tennessee Valley Authority has replaced the head of its $2.5 billion construction program at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plan, one of the utility’s highest-paid nuclear managers.

Masoud Bajestani, site vice president for the Unit 2 reactor construction project at Watts Bar, left the federal agency Friday night. TVA spokesman Terry Johnson said today that Bajestani’s departure “is unrelated to TVA’s nuclear construction program.”

TVA Senior Project manager Marie Gillman was appointed interim site director for the Watts Bar project, according to a memo to TVA employees at Watts Bar.

Johnson said the leadership change shouldn’t alter the expected project completion in 2013.

Bajestani, a 54-year-old nuclear engineer from Iran, was three years into a five-year contract to finish the reactor — the only new nuclear plant now under construction in the United States. TVA officials did not offer any explanation for Bajestani’s sudden departure.

Bajestani earned $619,000 in income and bonuses, according to testimony in his divorce proceedings last year. He also was eligible for performance bonuses and at least another year on his contract beyond 2012 if the new reactor is completed on time and within budget.

See Sunday’s Times Free Press for complete coverage.

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royw64 said...

Probably sending Directives home To Iran & Got Caught(Finely)

January 29, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.

When a federal agency does something “suddenly” (not a trait of federal agencies) and suspicions immediately are not answered, speculation can become rampant.

Because TVA does not have a good reputation of acting with alacrity, a sudden move can seem calamitous. Maybe not; but it calls into memory the Browns Ferry nuclear fire and the continuous problems TVA has had with the Browns Ferry plant.

The inherent flaw in the Browns Ferry design in not planning for more coolant capacity has been a costly one and may delay its ability to operate efficiently until millions are spent in increasing tower cooling capacity.

TVA’s huge mismanagements costing ratepayers billions of dollars just in the nuclear area have been economically disastrous and ironically, CEO Kilgore believes that would be one factor in lessening the salability of TVA’s assets.

The continuous push to “refurbish” technologically old, no, ancient, abandoned nuclear plants clearly exhibits a management mindset that is not prudent, cost conscious or innovative.

TVA cannot get around the fact that it has saddled ratepayers with an enormous debt, now at about $25 billion, much of it from bad management mistakes twenty years ago. And there is not enough income stream to prop up a greatly expanded management staff with a CEO that is the highest paid federal government worker in the country.

Was Bajestani fired? If so, that in itself is an unusual action by TVA management because “no one ever gets fired from the TVA” as the saying goes. Then it must be something very serious leaving to speculation whether or not Bajestani became a security risk.

Where is Bajestani today? Is there a serious illness involved?

Because TVA is not forthcoming immediately, particularly regarding anything nuclear, only wild speculation remains.

What will the TVA report to the Securities and Exchange Commission about the “event”? To the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

The answers eventually will be forthcoming even while TVA plays its cat and mouse routine.

It seems that TVA always is shooting itself in the foot; this time better answers are demanded and more quickly.

Ernest Norsworthy

January 29, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.
InfoSnooper said...

I could never understand how he was the head of a Startup of a nuclear power plant and he was allowed to travel home to see his father (in Iran). I have been told his father is a high up official in large construction projects in Iran presently.

It indeed is very interesting that he was so quickly moved out of the way, when this Unit 2 plant is currently in a very important part of construction completion and Startup commencement.

There is alot more to this story and I hope that the media does its job an find out some of the truths that TVA has not seemed willing to disclose. For TVA to have a very highly compensated and knowledgable person in the resurgence of nuclear power in the area, be swept away is highly unusual for any corporate structure.

January 30, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.
WorkHard said...

His divorce became public information and his blatant disregard for Federal tax code (by lying about his emergency disbursement of funds) and by funneling that money to Iran shows his utter disregard for the rules and regulations of the same government he was employed by. Sending money and visiting Iran while being a site vice president of the only nuclear power plant under construction in the United States was at the least foolish. Is it not illegal to send money to Iran? He could not do it directly from this country so he had to funnel the money through a family member in Canada. He stated in his divorce he is buying property in Iran. Can an American citizen own property in Iran? That would be bad enough but this man was the site vice president for the Tennessee Valley Authority at a multibillion dollar project and had access to plant secrets that he could have easily sent to Iran. His divorce is public information and accessible online. He hid thousands of dollars and sent hundreds of thousands to Iran. I work at Watts Bar and have for many years. I am glad to see him gone.

February 1, 2011 at 12:35 a.m.
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