Hanford Nuclear Reservation

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.

For years top scientists have said a big earthquake near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is highly unlikely in our lifetimes. Now, a new geological study is being published, and what it says is shaking up assumptions.

One of the most difficult challenges at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is moving radioactive waste from point “A” to point “B.” The federal government is spending billions of dollars on a waste treatment plant. Piping that radioactive waste across the desert is sort of like getting ketchup out of a bottle. But it’s a whole lot more complicated and dangerous.

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.

Japan's nuclear reactor crisis has sharpened the debate over where the U.S. will store its radioactive waste in the long-term. Tuesday the State of Washington and other plaintiffs will argue in federal court that the Obama administration should not abandon the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

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