Energy Dept.: Bechtel Failed to Ensure Hanford Vit Plant Safety - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Energy Dept.: Bechtel Failed to Ensure Hanford Vit Plant Safety

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New plant to treat hazardous waste at former nuclear site New plant to treat hazardous waste at former nuclear site

RICHLAND, Wa. - The U.S. Department of Energy's Inspector General says design changes at the new Hanford Vitrification plant were not properly verified.

The DOE released an audit on Thursday, which said Hanford contractor, Bechtel National Inc. failed to reach the requirement of ensuring that the vitrification process is safe for workers, the public and the environment during the design change process.

The audit was highly critical of the design change process at the $12.2 billion Vit plant. The facility is designed to convert about 56 million gallons of dangerous radioactive waste into a glass logs for eventual burial.

Earlier this year, investigators found low level radioactive contaminated soil under a bird's nest at Hanford. 

Bechtel sent the following message to workers at the Vit plant back in June regarding the finding.

Craft work was suspended in the High-Level Waste Vitrification and Pretreatment Facilities today after radiation control technicians found low levels of radioactively contaminated soil inside the HLW facility.

All workers in the HLW and PT facilities were surveyed and no detectable levels of contamination were found.  

HLW and PT craft workers were released early because construction work was suspended. Non-manual employees' work schedules were not affected.  

The contaminated soil was found beneath a bird nest in the HLW facility. There are no sources of contaminated material within the WTP boundary, so the source of the material is elsewhere.  

Surveys of the facilities determined the extent of the contamination was localized. Affected areas have been barricaded.  

All workers should report to work as normally scheduled on Thursday, June 6.

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