"Manager Says Safety Issues Are Ignored at Hanford Nuclear Site"

"Donna Busche, a nuclear engineer and health physicist, files a suit alleging that executives tried to dissuade her from raising warnings about serious problems with the waste site's design."

"The long-troubled project to clean up radioactive waste in Hanford, Wash., has come under attack from another senior manager, the third to assert that top executives are ignoring serious problems in the plant's design.

Donna Busche, the manager of environmental and nuclear safety for San Francisco-based URS Corp., alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that executives at the $13.4-billion project attempted to suppress her warnings and were working to fire her.

Busche, a nuclear engineer and health physicist, alleged that pressure to meet deadlines led the company to retaliate against her for insisting on stringent safety practices at the former nuclear weapons complex.

Hanford is the nation's most contaminated piece of property, home to 56 million gallons of highly radioactive sludge in underground tanks that pose a long-term risk of leaking into the Columbia River. Dozens of the tanks are already leaking and threatening the largest river in the western U.S.

The Energy Department is in a race to pump out the waste, embed it into glass and ship it to a future dump, but so far not a single gallon has been treated and the project is more than 20 years behind the original schedule."

Ralph Vartabedian reports for Los Angeles Times February 13, 2013.

Source: LA Times, 02/14/2013