High-level whistleblower: Plutonium may cause explosion at Washington nuclear facility — Design manager warns of ‘dire’ consequences

Published: November 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 pm ET
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Hanford Nuclear Waste’s Safety May Not Be Assured by U.S., Markey Says, Bloomberg, Nov. 21, 2011:

The U.S. Energy Department may not have adequately responded to safety questions and allegations of retaliation against whistle-blowers at a nuclear-waste treatment plant in Washington state, Representative Edward Markey said. [...]

Hydrogen Bubbles

Walt Tamosaitis, a research manager at the treatment plant, was demoted after alerting Energy Department contractors in 2010 about his concerns that improper treatment of high-level waste might cause plutonium to settle and hydrogen-gas bubbles might form, leading to an explosion, according to Markey’s letter.

The agency “seems to be more interested in paying contractor fees than in paying attention to safety concerns or to those who are disciplined for raising them,” Markey said today in a statement. [...]

Listen to a report featuring Tamosaitis’ ordeal here: http://www.kuow.org/mp3high/mp3/News/20110705_AK_Tamo.mp3

  • Now he shares an office in the basement with a production printer
  • Used to direct $500 million budget
  • 53 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in aging underground tanks
  • Security badge striped, escorted out of building
  • Feds and contractors safety culture is broken
  • If things go wrong in mixing vessels, consequences could be dire
  • Allegations strongly backed up by federal safety board
  • A very high-level  manager
Published: November 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 pm ET
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