Whistleblowing at the Hanford Nuclear Site
This moderated discussion about the Hanford Nuclear Site will feature prominent whistleblower Dr. Walt Tamosaitis, who will share details of the retaliation he faced after raising safety concerns about the plant’s waste disposal. Hanford is the nation’s most contaminated nuclear facility, containing two-thirds of the country’s high-level nuclear waste, and is only one hour away from Walla Walla. Liz Mattson of the nonprofit advocacy group Hanford Challenge will discuss issues regarding the safe cleanup of Hanford’s 53 million gallons of leaking nuclear waste, and her organization’s work protecting whistleblowers like Dr. Tamosaitis and educating young people about how to participate in Hanford cleanup efforts.
This event is part of the American Whistleblower Tour, sponsored by the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization. The goals of the tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in democracy and preparing young people for ethical decision-making. The speakers will examine what it means to be a whistleblower, what it means to be a whistleblower at Hanford, and the difficulties and stages of experience that whistleblowers often face. More on the tour can be found at www.whistleblowertour.org.
Walt Tamosaitis was the Deputy Chief Process Engineer and Research & Technology Manager for the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Eastern Washington – the nation’s biggest project and the most contaminated facility, containing two thirds of the country’s highlevel nuclear waste. Dr. Tamosaitis was terminated from the site’s cleanup project by Bechtel, a contractor, after raising concerns about the safety and design of the nuclear waste processing plant as well as the hostile safety culture at Hanford. He has filed suits in Washington State against Bechtel and in federal court against another contractor, URS; both suits are now in the appeal stages. Meanwhile, reviews by Congress, the Department of Energy, and others have validated Dr. Tamosaitis’s concerns as a result of his whistleblowing, along with a flood of new high level employees who have come forward with other safety issues.
Liz Mattson is the Program Coordinator with Hanford Challenge, a GAP spinoff organization that works to protect employees of the Hanford Nuclear Facility and educate the public about issues regarding nuclear waste (more at HanfordChallenge.org). Mattson works closely with Hanford workers to address safety and health problems, and meets with state regulatory agencies and site management to influence their approach to safety issues. She is also a founder of Inheriting Hanford, a regional Hanford mentorship community, empowering young people to become dynamic participants in Hanford cleanup.
Dana Gold is a GAP Senior Fellow and the Director of the American Whistleblower Tour. She says, “We’re excited to share with Whitman students and the surrounding community the important topic of whistleblowing, and the risks workers face when they speak truth to power.”
Sponsored by the Student Engagement Center, the Whitman Events Board, the Politics Department, and the Environmental Studies Program. Q&A to follow.