Hanford Nuclear Reservation

RICHLAND, Wash. — Six workers at a Hanford radioactive waste disposal site decided to quit rather than submit to drug testing after a baggie of marijuana was found in building at the landfill called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A key contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation said Monday it will have nuclear experts review its safety culture. Bechtel has been under fire at the southeast Washington nuclear site since a high-level manager was taken out of his position after raising safety concerns.

Bechtel is building a $12 billion factory to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. But recently the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board came to the conclusion that the project’s safety culture is "flawed."

Associated Press

RICHLAND, Wash. — Workers recently completed clean-up work on 140 acres of the Hanford nuclear reservation where liquid waste from the making of nuclear bombs was poured into trenches in the ground.

Northwest News Network

Scientists are experimenting with 1,800-year-old glass to better understand how nuclear waste storage will hold up for millennia to come.


Hanford contractors are welding the lids onto massive waste mixing tanks later this week. That’s despite serious concerns being raised by engineers at the plant in southeast Washington. A labor union that represents those workers has asked for a work stoppage and filed a formal grievance.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Seniority won't be the only factor for determining layoffs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Pink slips are expected in six weeks by several Hanford contractors because federal stimulus money is tapering off.

CH2MHill and Mission Support Alliance are the federal contractors planning on the 1,600 lay-offs. The companies say union employees will lose their jobs based on seniority: those with the least experience going first.

Photo courtesy Dept. of Energy

The nation needs a new agency to site a federal nuclear waste dump. That's the recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission.

The congressionally-chartered agency would decide where to store radioactive waste that's now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington.

The Northwest could end up keeping Hanford’s nuclear waste for 100 years or more under a recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission. President Obama appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission to look into the question of where to store the nation’s worst nuclear waste.

The new report says one option may be to store the waste at regional centers for more than 100 years while the country looks for a suitable permanent repository. That concerns Susan Leckband, who chairs a board that advises managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington state has filed another lawsuit to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume consideration of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

A message from Frank Russo, WTP Project Director, and Bill Gay, WTP Deputy Project Director

Fellow WTP employees,

Over the past several weeks, there have been reports about the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Project that question our project’s safety culture and resolution of technical design issues, and that suggest cost and schedule objectives are favored over technical risk and safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. 


RICHLAND, Wash. – The heads of two Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractors tried to reassure workers with a memo this week. It says there is a strong safety culture on the massive waste treatment plant now under construction. The memo comes after several workers have come forward with concerns about the plant.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – More Hanford workers are starting to raise safety concerns about a massive nuclear waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington.

A federal nuclear watchdog agency has called the safety culture at the Hanford facility “flawed.” That finding is bolstered by a string of new letters from workers who say they have firsthand knowledge of problems at the plant.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Hanford nuclear reservation cleanup contractors are beginning Thursday to notify up to 1,200 workers they will be laid off at the end of September.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers have retrieved a key portion of radioactive waste ahead of schedule. That announcement came from the federal government today.

Courtesy of Hanford Contractor Bechtel

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.)

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new book explores how southeast Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation helped shape the Atomic Age. It's called "Made in Hanford: The bomb that changed the world."

Hill Williams says perhaps the most surprising thing he found through his research was how closely linked his life has been to the development of nuclear weapons.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would breathe new life into the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The House will vote today on a larger spending bill that includes a budget increase for reviewing the project.

Some nuclear cleanup advocates are concerned that if Yucca Mountain doesn't open, it could mean high level waste could be permanently stored at Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The National Park Service Wednesday gave its support to turning part of the Hanford nuclear site into a new national park.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says Hanford's historic B Reactor deserves park status in order to tell the story of the race to build the atomic bomb. 

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy plans to launch a new investigation into safety culture at Hanford’s waste treatment plant, Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman reported to workers at the plant on Monday.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The number two manager at the U.S. Department of Energy is scheduled to speak to workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation today. The visit comes after criticism of Hanford's safety culture by a federal nuclear safety watchdog.

RICHLAND, Wash. – For the last year federal nuclear regulators have been in a battle with the U.S. Department of Energy. The debate? Whether the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant is safe enough.

The other big question is whether Hanford workers feel safe to raise concerns without fear of retaliation.

The man at the center of this battle is a well-respected nuclear engineer who used to help manage the design of the waste treatment plant ... that is until he stood up and said there were serious problems there.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy says it doesn't agree with the finding that the safety culture at Hanford is "flawed." Even so, the department says that it's working to make improvements at the waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington.

That's the upshot of a letter released Friday after a federal nuclear watchdog raised questions about Hanford’s massive plant.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy says it believes its safety culture at Hanford is “strong.” But the agency said in letter Friday it’s also working to make improvements. The letter is a response to criticism from a federal nuclear watchdog that called Energy’s safety culture at Hanford’s waste treatment plant “flawed.”

To the EM community - 

The safety of the DOE workforce and the communities around our facilities is of the utmost importance to Secretary Chu and is something that requires constant vigilance.  As he says regularly, "We must always be looking for ways to strengthen our approach to safety and foster a questioning attitude at each of our sites."   

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy is defending its safety culture at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. The agency sent its workers a letter in response to harsh criticism this month in a report by a federal nuclear watchdog.

Suzanne Heaston, Bechtel’s spokeswoman in Richland. (Bechtel is the prime waste treatment plant contractor.)

WTP management and employees are fully committed to a strong nuclear safety and quality culture, and we welcome every opportunity to improve it. We will work with the DOE to carefully study the DNFSB report and any supporting information provided to identify further opportunities for enhancement.

Jen Stutsman, a DOE spokeswoman:

At every level of the Department of Energy, we take our obligation to protect the safety of our workers and the public very seriously. We are committed to fostering a questioning, safety-driven attitude among all of our federal and contractor employees. That is why the Department has in place a number of distinct safety programs that include independent nuclear safety reviews and an integrated safety management program headed by the DOE Office of Health, Safety and Security.

A high-level whistleblower from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is meeting with members of Congress this week. The topic: the safety culture at Hanford’s $12 billion waste treatment plant. A new report backs up his claim that the Department of Energy and its contractors discourage workers from raising safety concerns.

RICHLAND, Wash. - A federal nuclear watchdog agency is questioning some of the science behind a massive treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. In a letter released Thursday, federal examiners say key treatment tanks could pose risks.

About 50 workers from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation complained about health and safety issues at a meeting in Richland on Tuesday night. The conference was organized by Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group.

Most who attended the meeting complained they aren’t being compensated adequately for their health problems. They also said Hanford contractors and the federal government aren’t keeping workers safe in places like the nuclear waste tank farms.