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Report: Hanford vessels fail to meet requirements

YAKIMA, Wash. — A federal audit has concluded that the Energy Department and a contractor building a nuclear plant at the Hanford reservation installed tanks that did not always meet requirements of a quality assurance program or the contract.

The $12.3 billion plant being built to convert radioactive waste into glasslike logs has been the subject of recent whistleblower complaints about its design and safety.

The audit focused on tanks that were received prior to mid-2005. The tanks' design is significant because they will be located in sections of the plant that will be too radioactively hot for workers to enter once the plant is operating.

The Energy Department says it has taken steps to improve oversight, conducting technical surveillance on tanks and holding installations until issues can be independently verified.

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