Contractor's report finds no 'chilled' safety culture at Hanford

Dec 2, 2011
Originally published on December 1, 2011 3:47 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Critics of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's say its Waste Treatment Plant has a culture that lets safety concerns slide. Now a new government-funded report disputes that notion.

The in-depth report came after a federal watchdog agency and a high-level whistleblower called the treatment plant's safety culture flawed. But this new report says that there is no reluctance on the part of workers for the Department of Energy, or contractors Bechtel and URS, to raise safety and technical issues, except in isolated cases.

Nils Diaz is one of the nuclear experts that drafted the new report. He says rather than a chilled safety culture, Hanford has problems with communication to resolve technical concerns.

"But better communications have to have some common principle, and the common principle has always been there," Diaz says. "It is safety."

Hanford officials called its report an independent study. But Hanford critic Tom Carpenter says contractor Bechtel, "chose its own jury."

The report was commissioned by Bechtel, which will be later reimbursed by the federal Department of Energy.

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Hanford Waste Treatment & Immobilization Plant Project:

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