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Hanford Whistleblower Fired By Cleanup Contractor

A prominent whistleblower who raised safety concerns at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site has been fired from her job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Safety manager Donna Busche says employer URS Corp. told her she was being fired for “unprofessional conduct,” then escorted her out of the building early Tuesday.

“I’ve had mixed emotions since I got home. Part of it’s a great relief, that I don’t have to go there, be disrespected, yelled at, interrupted every time I open my mouth, my manager signing off documents that are not ready to be released, that are not factually accurate,” she said.

Busche was a high-level safety manager on a factory being built to bind up radioactive waste in glass logs. That means her approval on safety was required before construction could move ahead on the $12 billion plant. Federal watchdog officers have repeatedly asked for her testimony on the troubled project.

URS says Busche was not fired for raising safety concerns.

“Though URS supports Ms. Busche’s right to raise concerns and to express her personal views, we do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” the company said in a statement. 

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.