Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal government sues Lockheed Martin for fraud at Hanford

In this photo taken Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash.
Nicholas K. Geranios
/
The Associated Press
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash.

The federal government is suing Lockheed Martin Corp. for fraud in the latest controversy surrounding the heavily polluted Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The U.S. Justice Department is accusing the defense contractor of using false records and making false statements to bill the Energy Department for tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized profits and fees.

The federal civil lawsuit — filed last week in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington — also accuses Lockheed Martin of using federal money to pay millions of dollars in kickbacks, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

Hanford, located near Richland, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. It’s the most polluted nuclear site in the nation, and the decades-long cleanup has involved many billions of dollars. Through the years, the federal government has found fault with some contractors’ performance in audits and investigations that have led to lawsuits.

According to The Times, this most recent lawsuit covers the period from 2010 to 2015, when Lockheed Martin was part owner of Mission Support Alliance. MSA provides support and technical services for thousands of federal employees and contractors at the Hanford site, according to a news release about the filing.

Lockheed Martin has denied the allegations and said it will defend itself vigorously.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kari Plog is an award-winning reporter covering the South Sound, including Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties. Before transitioning to public radio in 2018, Kari worked as a print journalist at The News Tribune in Tacoma.