CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — A federal inspector who led safety efforts at the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant in Louisa County plead guilty this week to falsifying safety inspection reports.
The charges were filed after Gregory Croon’s retirement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2020. In a press release, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said the charges were a result of a joint investigation between the OIG and NRC.
According to court documents obtained by WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, Croon worked at the power plant for four years and was the senior inspector at the North Anna facility, overseeing safety inspections for the entire plant.
Over three separate quarterly reports in 2017, Croon was found to have lied about on-site inspections of key fire and flood safety systems, describing the completion of inspections that never actually took place. The systems in question included fire suppression mechanisms and flood barriers protecting key equipment.
While only a few specific instances of falsification were described in court documents, a statement of facts signed by Croon stated that for years he “allowed days or even weeks to pass without entering North Anna.”
Court documents go on to say that his immediate supervisor told him on several occasions to conduct physical inspections more frequently, but that Croon continued to avoid the plant.
The North Anna Nuclear Nuclear Generating Station is a 1892 Megawatt plant located on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa County. It’s situated near major population centers in central Virginia, about 60 miles from Richmond and 50 miles from Charlottesville.
“The accuracy of NRC inspection reports is critical to the NRC’s oversight of licensees’ safe operation of nuclear power plants around the nation,” said NRC Inspector General Robert J. Feitel. “Croon’s false statements could have jeopardized that safety oversight function.”
At a hearing before the Hon. Judge Norman K. Moon in the Western District Court of Virginia on Monday, Dec. 13, Croon submitted a guilty plea, signing an agreement with prosecutors that would allow him to avoid jail time but carries a term of probation and a potential fine of up to $9,500.
Croon was released on bond but will reappear before the court in Charlottesville for a sentencing hearing on March 7, 2022.