Your tax dollars are on the line. The DOE is set to extend a contract to Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) for another year at the Hanford Nuclear Site, despite numerous allegations of misconduct since the company won the initial contract for $7.1 billion in 2008. Below is an investigative report that appeared in Seattle Weekly in 2012 on the suppression of whistleblowers by the DOE, Bechtel, URS and WRPS at North America’s most toxic site. – JF
Once home to the nation’s largest plutonium-making facility, Hanford, Washington, is now one of the most toxic nuclear-waste sites in the world. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is currently spending $2 billion a year to clean up the 586-square-mile reservation. However, not all is well on Washington’s dusty southeastern edge: Whistle-blowers are stepping forward, claiming that taxpayer money is being spent recklessly on a project riddled with potentially deadly design defects.
Donna Busche, who has been employed by contractor URS (originally known as United Research Services) as acting Manager of Environmental and Nuclear Safety at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) since 2009, is among the latest of these senior managers to speak out about what she sees as the silencing of those who raise concerns about possibly lethal safety issues. Last November, Busche filed a complaint of discrimination under the federal whistle-blower protection statutes with the U.S. Department of Labor, alleging retaliation against her for reporting problems at the WTP, which one day will turn Hanford’s 56 million gallons of highly hazardous radioactive waste into storable glass rods through a process known as vitrification.
Climbing the corporate ladder in the male-dominated engineering world was no easy feat. But Busche, as numerous co-workers say, is tough, politically savvy, and scientifically skilled.
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