Monday, June 30, 2008

That Lonesome Whistle

I talked with Anne Harris recently. She is a wonderful human being who says, "I'm not trying to save the whole world, just my part of it." This can snowball on you, as she found out.

Anne worked for TVA during the nuclear power plant construction years and after learning of serious safety violation that could jeopardize her part of the world (Think Three Mile Island) she became a whistle blower...A very famous whistle blower because she took on TVA and won.

When Anne went public with the fact that the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant was defective in design and construction, she was harassed, not just by TVA, but by people in her own community. Her pastor and members of her church did the Christian thing by Anne and asked her to leave...Even as she was sacrificing her career in order to try and save their very lives.

As fate would have it, one of the welders at the Watts Bar facility came to work for me after the construction on the plant was halted because of the shoddy construction and serious safety concerns. When I asked him about the welds that had been the "straw" ("smoking gun" might be a better term) he said they were horrible and he was glad he didn't live anywhere near the place. When I asked him why things were so bad, he said it was because they bid the job and went with the lowest bid. There wasn't enough money to pay everybody and do it right.

"And you knew that while you were doing the job?" I asked.

"Yep," he said. "If you wanted to keep your job, you did your job, and don't cause no trouble."

He lost his job at Watts Bar when the shoddy "I just did what I was told" welds came to light and the contractor was terminated. He lost his job at my company when some things also came to light that involved his nonexistent ethical line.

To me this is a graphic illustration of how valuable people with unbreakable principles are to their world. Anne Harris probably saved an untold number lives at great personal sacrifice. She lost her career and was asked to leave her church as a reward. We should honor those people who will "not bear false witness" regardless of the price they will pay...But we don't.

Life is hard for the virtuous.



Anne has a message for us as the fight against climate change has brought nuclear power back to the table... "Nuclear is a problem dressed up as a solution."

The Tennessean has a story on Anne Harris in today's edition

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:13 PM

    Nuclear is the solution if it is done correctly. We are experiencing disaster in the very near future and nuclear energy would aid in the relief of climate change. I recognize the long term waste that is associated with nuclear energy, but I think it is smarter to deal with waste down the road rather than have a front row seat to the human extinction show during the next few centuries. Why not shoot the depleted uranium and plutonium toward the sun? I'd rather see a few solar fireworks than the demise of my species...