Bechtel National, Inc. statement
Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) is firmly committed to the mission of safely designing and building the plant that will immobilize 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in Hanford’s aging underground tanks.
Safety and quality are BNI’s top priorities. We expect and encourage our employees to identify and raise any and all concerns, and we are serious about evaluating and addressing each and every issue. We do not tolerate retaliation or harassment in any form against anyone who raises a concern. Surveys of thousands of employees and independent reviews by leading experts in nuclear safety have validated our strong nuclear safety and quality culture. We implement these experts’ recommendations as part of our efforts to continuously improve that culture.
Walter Tamosaitis has dropped his whistleblower case against BNI. He is, however, in active litigation with his employer, URS, and with the U.S. Department of Energy; and with BNI. We strongly dispute his version of the facts. We fully expect to be vindicated in court, where his allegations will receive appropriate scrutiny before judgment.
We invite the public to learn more about our project and our safety culture at www.hanfordvitplantsafety.com.
–Attribution: Bechtel National, Inc. spokesperson
Department of Energy statement
The Department of Energy is strongly committed to safely and successfully completing the cleanup of the Cold War legacy at Hanford, and protecting the safety of the public, our workers and the environment. As Secretary Chu and senior management at the Department have made clear time and again, retribution for raising safety concerns will not be tolerated. We are committed to continuing to improve our approach to safety at the Waste Treatment Plant, including making sure that technical and safety issues are addressed in an effective manner. As issues about the project are brought to our attention, we will continue to work with the project to resolve them through established processes, including seeking opportunities to improve those processes.
–Attribution: Damien LaVera, Department of Energy spokesperson
URS Corporation statement
“URS fully supports Walt Tamosaitis’ right to raise safety concerns and to express his personal views about his employment. But while we respect his right to express his views, we do not agree with his assertion that he suffered retaliation.”
“Dr. Tamosaitis’ reassignment had been discussed with him for several months prior to June 2010, as his work scope was coming to an end at the WTP project. His reassignment had nothing to do with his expression of any safety concern. He was offered a comparable position at another URS project but turned it down. He was moved to the company’s downtown Richland corporate building and given the only available office at the time, which was one of the offices in the basement. Dr. Tamosaitis has since worked on several important assignments for the company and, until November 2011, had declined on multiple occasions the opportunity to move to the first floor of the two-story office building.”
“URS encourages Dr. Tamosaitis and all of its employees to speak up if they have any concerns, particularly concerns that might affect nuclear, environmental or personal safety. Safety remains the company’s highest priority.”
–Attribution: Company spokesperson