Environment | Local

Judge Dismisses Hanford Whistleblower Case

Northwest News Network | Oct. 12, 2012 2:35 p.m.

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Walt Tamosaitis blew the whistle on the U.S. Department of Energy’s waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Photo by Anna King

Walt Tamosaitis blew the whistle on the U.S. Department of Energy’s waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Photo by Anna King

A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit by a high-level whistleblower against a contractor at the Hanford nuclear site. A former manager there had voiced safety concerns about the design of a plant meant to treat millions of gallons of radioactive waste.

Walt Tamosaitis worked -– and continues to work -– for Hanford contractor URS. He claims the managers on the waste treatment plant were cutting corners. The plant is part of a massive effort to cleanup radioactive waste at Hanford.

Tamosaitis says he called the contractor out in 2010 and shortly after landed in a basement office with “no meaningful work.”

But U.S. District Judge Lonny Suko says Tamosaitis did not follow the proper administrative steps for his claim -– and even if he had, the judge says URS is not responsible for his dismissal. The court says it was the lead contractor, Bechtel, that made that call.

In a letter to employees this week, Bechtel said the move had nothing to do with retaliation. It welcomed “vigilance” from employees in identifying safety issues.

An attorney for Tamosaitis says he will appeal. A separate suit against Bechtel is pending at the Washington State Supreme Court.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 N3. To see more, visit http://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/.

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