Georgia-based Energy & Process Corporation agreed to pay $4.6 million to resolve charges it violated the False Claims Act by failing to perform required quality assurance procedures and supplying defective steel reinforcing bars under a Department of Energy (DOE) contract to construct a nuclear waste treatment facility. See DOJ Press Release.
According to the government, the DOE paid E&P a premium to supply reinforcing bars that met stringent regulatory standards for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication and Reactor Irradiation Services facility in the DOE’s Savannah River site in South Carolina. However, the company allegedly failed to perform most of the necessary quality assurance measures even though it certified those requirements had been met. The government further claimed that one-third of the bars E&P used in the construction under the contract were defective.
In its press release announcing the settlement, the government described E&P’s misconduct as follows:
Our complaint alleges that after actively touting its experience with nuclear construction and quality assurance work, and then being hired to perform such work in connection with an important project, E&P chose to forego the agreed to quality assurance work, and then compounded this failure by falsely certifying to the Government that it had performed the quality assurance work.
The government further characterized the company’s alleged misbehavior as “cavalierly plac[ing] its own profits above its commitment to adhere to important nuclear safety and quality control requirements.”
The allegations originated in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by Deborah Cook. She was a former employee of the prime contractor that subcontracted with E&P in the course of building the DOE facility. She will receive a yet-to-be-determined whistleblower award from the proceeds of the government’s recovery.
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