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Hanford whistleblower case raises questions for Feds about worker's demotion

Documents surfacing from an ongoing lawsuit are raising questions about the demotion of a Hanford whistleblower and whether a top manager with the Department of Energy was involved.

Walt Tamosaitis was removed from a top management position with a Hanford contractor URS last July.  URS was one of many businesses that subcontracted with another private business, Bechtel, to build a massive $12 billion radioactive waste treatment plant for the federal government.

Tamosiatis’ job was to trouble-shoot any engineering issues that arose. He claims he was demoted because of the questions he raised about the safety of the plant. He’s suing Bechtel and URS.

Tom Carpenter of the watchdog group Hanford Challenge says email strings found in this court process show that DOE was also involved in Tamosaitis’ demotion:

"the evidence is starting to come out that there certainly did appear to be some internal agreements to get him off the site and the project."

Energy Department spokespeople refused to comment on these developments.

In previous statements on this issue they’ve said that the federal government doesn’t get involved in contractor staffing decisions and was not involved in Tamosaitis’ demotion.

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.