Feds order reinstatement of Hanford whistleblower

Seattle — A Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor has been ordered to reinstate a worker who the U.S. Department of Labor says was fired for voicing concerns about nuclear and environmental safety, officials said Wednesday.

Richland-based Washington River Protection Solutions, a subsidiary of URS Corporation and Energy Solutions, was also ordered to pay $220,000 in back wages and other expenses.

The labor department said the contractor violated federal whistleblower provisions. The worker first blew the whistle on nuclear and environmental safety and permit and record-keeping violations in 2009, according to the labor department. The worker was fired two years later and re-applied for the job in 2012. The reason for the initial firing was “poor performance.”

“The people most able to identify hazards are often the workers who are threatened by them,” Galen Lemke, the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration acting regional administrator, said in a statement. “Employees must never be punished for sounding an alarm when they see a problem that could injure, sicken or kill someone, or harm the environment.”

Washington River Protection Solutions said Wednesday that the employee was not fired for voicing safety concerns, but as part of 200 layoffs undertaken to “align employment levels with project work scope and federal funding.

The company is reviewing the labor department’s order and has not decided whether it will appeal before an administrative law judge.

“Each (Washington River Protection Solutions) employee is empowered and encouraged to raise safety or other workplace concerns,” the company stated.

The labor department did not name the employee, citing its policy on whistleblower cases.

More in Local News

District takes steps to secure school campuses

Safety measures have been enhanced at Hawthorne and Silver Firs elementary schools in Everett.

Hard work is paying off for Mariner High senior

Mey Ly has excelled in school since moving here from Cambodia; she also serves as an intrepreter.

County under flood watch; back-to-back storms promise heavy rain

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Monday for… Continue reading

1 arrested after SWAT team moves in on Marysville house

The incident was connected to an earlier robbery.

Is the state Transportation Commission irrelevant?

A report says the citizen panel often is ignored, and its duties overlap with the Transportation Department.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Puffy-coated robbery suspect arrested on Whidbey

The suspect apparently wore the same outfit in 2 robberies at the same place in less than 2 weeks.

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Most Read