Deputy Secretary of Energy visits Hanford - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deputy Secretary of Energy visits Hanford

Posted: Updated:

NEAR RICHLAND, Wash.— Safety is a top priority when working with radioactive nuclear waste, one mistake, and lives could be lost.  Monday, the Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman, visited Hanford to discuss the safety culture on the site.

"There's been a whole slough of these issues, and we keep cranking away at them to make sure we keep getting the right kind of answers before proceeding," says Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy.

Workers at the Vitrification Plant are constructing 64 acres of nuclear facilities to clean-up 53-million gallons of radioactive waste and chemicals.

‘We're constantly going through this with the defense board and the health safety and security at all times," says Poneman.

Even with procedures in place, many are still asking whether or not the safety culture is strong enough?

"You just heard one of the gentleman ask about a questioning attitude, this was an individual who obviously felt some concerns about it, so as long as there are people who have that kind of concern we're going to have work to do," says Poneman.

Poneman says he encourages workers to question and to raise safety concerns.  Since 2006, the site's safety record has only improved.