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Government Memo Slams Bechtel for Malfeasance, Safety Violations at Hanford Nuclear Site

Hanford tanks under constructionHanford Challenge has made public a scathing U.S. Department of Energy internal memo detailing Bechtel's long history of incompetence, misleading the government, overcharging, and unsafe designs related to the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The facility is a decade behind schedule and 250% over budget, with a current, yet still climbing, price tag of $13 billion. The WTP is supposed to vitrify (glassify) liquid high-level radioactive wastes, byproducts from reprocessing military irradiated nuclear fuel for weapons-grade plutonium extraction for use in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The memo, written by a high-ranking DOE director, urges that Bechtel be removed as the Design Authority for the WTP, warning that Bechtel “is not competent to complete their role.”

Hanford Challenge Executive Director, Tom Carpenter, posits: “the leaked memo puts the Waste Treatment Plant’s woes into sharp relief. This memo details exhaustive and disturbing evidence of why Bechtel should be terminated from this project and subject to an independent investigation. We already knew of Bechtel’s record of suppressing its own engineers’ concerns and retaliating against whistleblowers, and now we see evidence that exhibits a shocking and inexcusable lack of attention to safety for both workers and the public.”

Hanford Challenge is a member group of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), as is Beyond Nuclear.

The news comes just two weeks after Hanford Challenge revealed that the first double-shelled liquid high-level radioactive waste tank has been documented as leaking at Hanford.