Missouri reactor faces federal fine

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The University of Missouri Research Reactor should be fined $3,000 for disciplining a research scientist who complained about the amount of commercial activity at the reactor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday.

In 1999, the scientist spoke to an official at the U.S. Department of Energy about his concerns. When he wrote to the university's provost about the conversation, he received a disciplinary letter from a reactor manager saying he was not authorized to talk to federal officials.

The NRC determined the scientist engaged in a protected activity.

Bill Yelon, who has identified himself as the former reactor scientist in question, said he was vindicated by the commission's recommendations, particularly because university officials failed to act on an internal grievance he filed at the time.

"The amount of the fine is much less important than the finding that a violation had occurred," Yelon said.

University officials might appeal the fine.

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