The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has chosen to intervene in a False Claims Act lawsuit filed by a whistleblower against a government contractor hired by the Department of Energy (DOE) to work on a South Carolina nuclear waste treatment facility.
According to the Justice Department, the DOE paid Energy & Process Corporation (E&P), of Tucker, Ga., a premium to supply rebar that met stringent regulatory standards for a treatment facility within the Savannah River Site nuclear reservation near Aiken, S.C.
The quality of the materials used in the construction of the nuclear waste site was critical for safety reasons, yet E&P knowingly supplied rebar without performing most of the required quality assurance procedures, the whistleblower complaint alleges.
E&P wrongfully certified that the quality assurance measures on the rebar had been met when they weren’t, the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit also asserts that because of E&P’s failures to fulfill its contractual requirements, one-third of the rebar it supplied to the DOE for the nuclear site was defective.
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that construction suppliers who are paid a premium to meet high safety standards actually supply the goods and perform the work for which they are paid,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “When contractors cut corners, they not only cheat American taxpayers, but they also can put public safety at risk, particularly when their misconduct affects a facility that houses and processes nuclear materials.”
Deborah Cook, a former employee of the prime contractor building the DOE facility, filed the lawsuit under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on behalf of the federal government for false claims and share in any recovery.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice