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The N.R.C. inspectors arrive at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant

Both Springfield's State and the United States Government have Nuclear Inspectors who visit Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to investigate reports of problems at the plant or to conduct surprise inspections.

State inspectors

Inspectors from the state government visited the plant when Bart caught Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish in the river near the plant, and a local reporter published a story about the fish. The inspectors found a large number (342) of safety violations (including the geiger counters detecting an immense amount of radiation before the inspectors even enter the plant, gum being used to seal a crack in the cooling tower, a plutonium rod being used as a paperweight, the pipes leaking highly corrosive radioactive waste, Sector 7-G's monitoring station was unmanned (due to Homer sleeping on the Job) as well as an entire room being flooded with nuclear waste.) which Mr. Burns was legally required to fix, and the total cost was just over fifty-six million dollars. The experience motivated Burns to run for governor so he would be in a position to change the regulations that had cost him so much money. Burns' campaign failed, however; and ironically, due to the same three-eyed fish.[1]

Federal inspectors

Federal inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (an agency of the U.S. Government) later visited to conduct a surprise evaluation of employee competence. They brought with them their van which had a simulated workstation that the inspectors used to evaluate the employees. Smithers, reacting quickly, gave the three least talented employees (including Homer) the busy-work task of guarding a bee in the basement to hide them from the inspectors. Smithers' plan failed, however. Homer accidentally broke the jar containing the bee, chased after it, and ended up emerging from a manhole near the van. When Homer got his turn in the simulator, he managed to cause a meltdown, which baffled the inspectors because the van didn't have any nuclear material in it. However, they were crystal-clear about their assessment: Homer was dangerously underqualified for his own job, and needed to take college training in nuclear physics in order to continue working at the nuclear power plant. Unable to bribe his way out of the situation or even forcibly remove the inspectors via the trap door (his office had been rearranged for painting), Mr. Burns arranged for Homer to be enrolled at Springfield University to take Nuclear Physics 101.[2]