Latest: At Hanford, allegations of worker intimidation

The Superfund site has been in clean-up since 1989.

  • Workers wearing protective clothing enter a project area during the Hanford cleanup.

    Department of Energy

At the Hanford Site in eastern Washington, corporations hired by the government have been working since 1989 to clean up the hazardous and complicated legacy of more than four decades of plutonium production. Over the years, the project has run into problems ranging from leaking tanks and groundwater contamination to whistleblower complaints of mismanagement and suppression of dissent (“The Hanford Whistleblowers,” HCN, 2/10/14).

Though work recently resumed on dismantling one of Hanford’s plutonium plants after a radiation alarm in January caused delays, the cleanup project now faces a new challenge. Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, wrote to the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General to request an investigation of workers’ compensation at Hanford, citing worker allegations of intimidation and harassment after they filed claims. The senators also voiced concern that the Trump administration’s recent stay of a regulation to protect whistleblowers might discourage workers from coming forward.

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