Government Intervenes in Suit Against Energy & Process Corporation Alleging Use of Defective Steel Rebar and Quality Control Failures in Connection with Construction of Nuclear Processing Facility
ATLANTA – The government has intervened in a False Claims Act lawsuit against Energy & Process Corporation (“E&P”), of Tucker, Georgia, alleging that E&P knowingly failed to perform required quality assurance procedures and supplied defective steel reinforcing bars (“rebar”) in connection with a contract to construct a Department of Energy (“DOE”) nuclear processing facility, the Justice Department announced today.
“To ensure that the nuclear facility would be safe, the Government paid E&P a sizable premium for exhaustive quality control procedures,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia. “This lawsuit alleges that E&P intentionally failed to perform the quality control work, and then concealed its failing by providing false certifications to the government. In intervening in this lawsuit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks to ensure that entities that defraud the Government are identified and held responsible.”
“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.”
The lawsuit alleges that, although the DOE – in connection with the construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the DOE’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina – paid E&P a premium to supply rebar meeting the stringent quality assurance standards promulgated by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”), E&P failed to perform most of the necessary quality assurance work, and then concealed this failing by falsely certifying that the quality assurance requirements had been met. As a result, one-third of the rebar supplied by E&P and used in the construction was found to be defective.
The lawsuit was filed by Deborah Cook, a former employee of the prime contractor building the DOE facility, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. Under the act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery. The act permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it has done in this case. Defendants found liable under the act are subject to treble damages and penalties.
This matter was investigated by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices of the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina, and the DOE’s Office of Inspector General.
The case is captioned United States ex rel. Cook v. Shaw Areva Mox Services, LLC, et al., Case No. 01:13-cv-4023 (N.D. Ga.).
The claims asserted against E&P are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
This matter is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Paris A. Wynn and Gabriel Mendel.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.