Hanford Whistleblower Questions DOE Relationship With Contractors

July 28, 2011 - Comments Off

In a letter to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, a whistleblower at the Hanford Site in Eastern Washington, accused the Department of Energy of having a conflict of interest with its contractors that prevents it from discharging its oversight responsibility.  Walter L. Tamosaitis is a former high-level manager of a waste treatment plant project at the Hanford site who was removed from his managerial position after he raised safety concerns.  He wrote the letter, which can be found on the DNFSB website, on July 19, 2011.  In the letter, Tamosaitis stated:

I believe that a fundamental conflict of interest lies within DOE and its contractors which inhibits DOE from conducting their oversight responsibility. This conflict results from a lack of experienced personnel within DOE and is fueled by the fact that DOE and its contractors are driven by the same motives of schedule, cost, and milestones.  As a result, safety/technical/efficiency issues take a back seat to cost.  The contractors focus on these for fees, bonuses, and future contracting work while DOE personnel focus on them for personal and political gains.  As a result, if someone raises a technical issue, DOE and its contractor[s] ban together to resist it.

According to KMB Partner David J. Marshall, “This is the latest in a string of accusations detailing the DOE’s cozy relationship with its contractors, typically at the expense of employee safety and government funds, and it is unfortunate – and expensive for all taxpayers — that these practices have been allowed to flourish as long as they have.”

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