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Update: Hanford whisleblower says DOE too cozy with contractors

Hanford whistleblower says contractors have too cozy a relationship with Department of Energy.
Courtesy of Hanford Contractor Bechtel
Hanford whistleblower says contractors have too cozy a relationship with Department of Energy.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A high-level Hanford whistleblower is accusing the Department of Energy of being too cozy with its contractors at the federal nuclear reservation.

Walter Tamosaitis made that accusation in a letter released Monday. (Updated with link to a copy of the letter.)

In a 12 page letter with more than 100 pages of attachments Tamosaitis says that Hanford isn’t being watched closely enough by an independent outsider. He wrote the letter to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board as part of an ongoing conflict with Hanford contractors.

Tamosaitis says the Department of Energy is too closely tied to the contractors who are building a massive waste treatment factory in southeast Washington. He says the department doesn’t want to run over budget or beyond schedule.

“… if someone raises a technical issue, DOE and it’s contractor ban together to resist it,” he wrote.

Tamosaitis was removed from his high level manager position on the waste treatment plant project at Hanford after raising safety concerns.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in an earlier letter that the department can’t accept the allegations of poor nuclear safety without “the opportunity to evaluate the board’s full investigative record.” The agency has also defended its safety culture.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio

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.