An outside investigation — spurred by whistleblowers — found the region’s only nuclear power plant, does not appear to have a chilled work environment but does have some workplace problems.

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The Pacific Northwest’s only nuclear-power plant does not appear to have a chilled work environment where employees are afraid to raise safety concerns, according to a report released Monday by independent investigators.

But the report did find some workplace problems at the Columbia Generating Plant north of Richland, including tensions between some employees and some managers who made sarcastic or demeaning comments, and behaved “in an intimidating matter.”

The report by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman was spurred by whistleblower allegations that employees were afraid to report safety concerns for fear of retaliation.

This is the second of two reports from Pillsbury in response to whistleblowers’ concerns about the plant’s work environment and operations. The investigation has cost Energy Northwest, the public power agency that operates the plant, more than $1 million.

Energy Northwest board members were encouraged by the report’s finding.

Sid Morrison, chair of Energy Northwest’s executive board, said “employees are nearly unanimous in stating their willingness to raise concerns and in their positive assessment of the work environment.”

In June, Pillsbury released an initial report that included a look at whether Energy Northwest deliberately did not disclose poor plant operating performance to the executive board at a meeting last year.

That report concluded there was no deliberate attempt to hide poor performance. But investigators found senior plant management gave incorrect data last year to the executive board that made performance look better than it was.

The “phase two” report released Monday involved interviews with 10 different work groups at the plant.

The investigation found that most employees in those work groups thought the plant had a positive environment, and they could report their concerns.

But Pillsbury also found that multiple work groups at Columbia “have problems that, if left unaddressed, could result in a chilled work environment.”

The whistleblowers, who remain anonymous to management and Pillsbury investigators, continue to have concerns. In an email this week, they told The Seattle Times that some departments at the plant “were on the precipice” of a chilled environment if not already there.

The whistleblowers also said the plant continues to perform poorly compared to other U.S. nuclear power plants. As of June 30, they said the plant’s industry ranking, as measured by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, was 85 out of 99. The institute looks at condition of equipment, management effectiveness, quality of procedures and other aspects of plant operations.

Michael Paoli, a spokesman for Energy Northwest, said he could not comment on the institute’s ranking, which he said is proprietary. But Paoli said the plant meets or exceeds all U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety standards.