SSIT Publications > News >
IEEE-SSIT Barus Award to Dr. Kymn Harvin
The following article will appear in the Summer 2006 issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
SSIT Presents Carl Barus Award to Dr. Kymn Harvin
Dr. Nancy Kymn Harvin, a former senior manager at the PSEG Nuclear Power Plant in Lower Alloways Creek, NJ, was presented with the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest, on April 26, 2006. The Award was given in recognition of Dr. Harvin’s contribution and personal sacrifice in drawing attention to significant safety problems at the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear facility.
The ceremony for Dr. Harvin took place at the New Jersey State House building in Trenton, NJ, during a news conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union. The IEEE-SSIT Carl Barus Award is given individuals who jeopardize their careers or lives in efforts to uphold critical engineering ethics principles. Dr. Harvin was fired in 2003 by the Salem plant operator, PSEG, after she spoke out about the facility’s safety problems.
In conferring the Barus Award to Dr. Harvin, SSIT Past-President and current IEEE Div. VI Director Clinton Andrews noted that the Barus Award is not given annually, but only when someone with character of “heroic proportions rises against the odds to work for the public interest.” Dr. Harvin, he said “did so at the cost of her high-level position at PSEG… She has endured lies and threats… but undaunted, continues to speak out… While not an engineer herself, she exemplifies the ethical stance that SSIT supports in an expert professional.”
“Being a whisteblower is not easy,” Dr. Harvin acknowledged in her remarks, as she traced the history of her actions and ordeal. “I lost a six-figure job, friends and a career I love, and for a time, myself. I felt betrayed by leaders I had served and a company who was supposed to protect the public.” Dr. Harvin said that she gained strength as she met supporters like Peter Barus (who is the son of the late Carl Barus, for whom the Barus Award is named) and SSIT’s Mal Benjamin, as she learned of IEEE-SSIT’s work on society’s behalf, as well as the work of others such as Dave Lochbaum and Union of Concerned Scientists and the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG).
Dr. Harvin's actions, the Award states, "led to much improved maintenance of our nation’s second largest nuclear power plant. This action avoided a potential disaster and changed procedures at other plants and at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our country is deeply indebted to you."
Prior recipients of the Barus Award have included David Monts in 2003 who lost his engineering job at the University of New Orleans after he exposed safety-related building code violations, Salvador Castro in 2001 who was fired for calling attention to a defective medical device, and Rebecca Leaf in 1997 for her work on rural electrification in Nicaragua.
Click here for photo. Pictured from left: Stephen Unger, Mal Benjamin, Peter Barus, Carl Barus Award recipient Dr. Kymn Harvin, and Clinton Andrews.