People of Northwest Public Radio
Tue March 11, 2014
Hanford Whistleblowers: Senate Hearing Forces Few Answers Into The Open
Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:17 pm
In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.
The former nuclear site workers had been informally invited to testify before the Homeland Security subcommittee, but that invitation was later blocked by the ranking minority Republican on the committee.
Busche and Tamosaitis both worked on the large waste treatment plant being built in southeast Washington.
Tom Carpenter, from the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge, says the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors at Hanford don’t have a functioning process for employees to bring up safety concerns.
“They all believe in the ability for workers to come forward with concerns," he says. "They just don’t have any processes that work, right? And whistleblowers get fired and no one does anything about it.”
URS, the government contractor that formerly employed Busche and Tamosaitis, said in a written statement that the employees weren’t wrongfully fired. It also says it continues to encourage employees to raise any safety concerns at Hanford.
Also at Hanford, the Washington State Department of Ecology criticized the federal Department of Energy for no clear plan to pump out a leaking double-shell tank of waste. The state says the federal government’s plan is incomplete, would take too long and is lacking key technical details.