RICHLAND, Wash. — At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation last week, the Washington State Department of Ecology fined the Department of Energy $50,000 for mishandling waste at a facility that is used to store and treat radioactive sludge.
Because of Hanford’s proximity to Oregon, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is fighting to get the waste disposed of in a more timely manner, and to protect whistleblowers from reprisals.
“We have spent billions and billions of dollars and haven’t gotten any of the serious material cleaned up,” Wyden said. “We wouldn’t even know a lot of this if it wasn’t for the whistleblowers, and I think the Department of Energy is sort of signalling to the whistleblowers right now, ‘you speak out, you tell the truth, and you better be careful about your jobs.’ ”
Wyden says veiled threats from the DOE toward those whistleblowers must be stopped. He also says he’s working closely with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Hanford-related issues.