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Problems with structural steel at Hanford WTP
DOE Identifies "Potentially Unrecoverable Quality Issue" at Hanford Waste Treatment Plant
More than 14% of required safety documentation "missing"

Richland, WA:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) put one of its contractors—Bechtel National, Inc.
—on notice that it must explain what DOE called a “potentially unrecoverable quality issue” at a
multi-billion dollar waste processing facility at the Hanford Nuclear Site in an official letter
released by the non-profit organization Hanford Challenge.

The Waste Treatment Plant is a facility being built to vitrify [ encase in glass ] high-level nuclear waste
currently stored at Hanford in southeastern Washington.

The March 6, 2018 letter from DOE’s Office of River Protection to Bechtel National, Inc.,
the prime contractor hired to design and build the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) since 2000.

The letter, signed by DOE Federal Project Director William Hamel, states that DOE has
“identified the quality records needed to demonstrate that the important-to-safety structural steel
could perform its safety function were either missing or of indeterminate quality.
This condition is a potentially unrecoverable quality issue.”

Earlier this week, DOE announced that Mr. Hamel, the author of the letter,
was transferred from his position as Federal Project Manager
to another part of the agency away from oversight duties at the Waste Treatment Plant.

[ What does that tell ya? Do you think BNI got mad, called up Rick Perry and said " Hey, stop your guy from pointing out the scam we got going here. " ]

The March 6th letter also stated that DOE also expressed concerns about other
components such as rebar, hangers and piping not meeting safety requirements.

Internal documents obtained by Hanford Challenge indicate that approximately 14.4% of the required safety documents
were missing from both the Low Activity Waste and Lab facilities.

[ On another site, an excellent researcher, (HHD), was posting about flawed steel from Japan and France. I wonder if some of those items were used at the Hanford WTP and that's why the records are " missing ".  ]

DOE told Bechtel to promptly investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the structural steel
to “justify the continuation of work.” DOE also directed Bechtel to brief DOE within 14 days concerning
the results of the investigation to determine the extent of condition, to provide a technical basis for
continuation of procurement activities to justify continuing work.

“This could be a showstopper. We applaud new DOE leadership for finally holding the contractor’s feet
to the fire on this critical issue of quality assurance, but I’m more interested in what happens next.
For DOE to fix this, it must enforce a rigorous nuclear safety culture and put a new contractor in place
that takes nuclear quality assurance seriously,” said Tom Carpenter, Executive Director, Hanford Challenge.

As early as 2010, internal experts blew the whistle on this exact issue. The response was to fire their own experts,including the Manager of Research and Technology, Dr. Walter Tamosaitis,
and Manager of Environmental and Nuclear Safety Donna Busche. “As a result of the contractors’ actions,
this extremely crucial multi-billion dollar facility is at serious risk of being scrapped,” said Carpenter.

If the structural steel and other components cannot meet rigorous safety standards for nuclear operations,
the plant cannot be allowed to operate. Commercial nuclear plants have been canceled for not being able
to prove the quality and workmanship of safety components.

 “This is a serious programmatic failure. You can’t inspect in safety,you have to build it in – making sure that everything installed in this plant has the right pedigree.The contractor needs to prove that the source and quality of materials installed are validated and verified.You can’t fix this after the fact, you have to start over. The contractor failed and needs to be held accountable for this multi-billion dollar screw up,” said Carpenter.

The WTP project has been plagued with cost and schedule overruns almost since its inception in 2000.
High-level management whistleblowers revealed numerous quality and technical flaws that would affect safety of the operations of the facility.

WTP was originally supposed to begin operations in 2007, at a cost to the government of $4.6 billion.
However, design changes, mismanagement, and other factors, including the decision to “fast-track” the facility
by using a much-criticized design/build approach, skyrocketed the projected costs to an estimated $26 billion,
with an opening date of 2036.

[ 18 years and $26bn and it may never even operate. ]

Hanford management recently promised to treat so-called “low activity” radioactive waste by 2022.
This deadline already appears to be at risk, especially when read in context with this latest DOE letter.

For pdf of press release, click here. http://www.hanfordchallenge.org/s/2018-0...on-WTP.pdf

For DOE Letter, click here. http://www.hanfordchallenge.org/s/2018-0...-steel.pdf

[ IMO the fix has already begun, they xfrd Mr. Hamel, don't be surprised if Mr. Hamel is discredited for exposing this and fired. There's a lot of money at stake and instead of admitting they screwed up and fixing it, they'll find a way to justify continuing the project. After all it's just taxpayers money and they can always take more if they want to. ]


February 19, 2014, 9:20 AM

Second whistleblower Donna Busche fired at troubled Wash. State Hanford nuke plant


FROM: Gregory H. Friedman Inspector General
October 17, 2014

Issues Pertaining to the Termination of Ms. Donna Busche, a Contractor Employee at the Waste Treatment Plant Project

Because of a material scope limitation , we were unable to reach a conclusion in this matter.  
In short, Bechtel and URS told us that they could not provide access to several thousand contractor
- generated emails and other documents that we believe were necessary to perform our
examination of the Busche termination.


Hanford contractors to pay $125 million settlement

By Annette Cary November 23, 2016 01:24 PM
Updated November 24, 2016 08:41 PM

The case began when whistleblowers Walter Tamosaitis, Donna Busche and Gary Brunson — all key former managers on the vitrification plant project — filed a sealed complaint in federal court in 2013.

After more than three and a half years of investigation into their claims, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to join the case at the first of this month on some of the plaintiffs’ allegations of nuclear quality violations and illegal lobbying. The case was unsealed after s settlement agreement was filed Wednesday.

The whistleblowers together are expected to receive 15 percent to 25 percent of the settlement — up to $31.25 million — under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to collect a portion of any damages awarded. An agreement will be worked out between the whistleblowers and the Department of Justice.

Plaintiffs cited repeated incidents in which they said welds on tanks, duct work and other equipment was accepted even though it either did not or could not be shown to meet nuclear quality requirements.

Allegations of illegal lobbying include an assertion that Bechtel used taxpayer money to pay a lobbyist in 2009 and 2010 to meet with the project’s critics in Congress to downplay the significance of safety-related technical concerns raised by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.


[ All these companies committing the same crimes and no one seems able to stop them, meanwhile because they all pay little to no taxes, the entire social net is failing to " ensure the general welfare " and a large percentage of the US population is homeless and starving. ]

Staup Knewkinus, nuclear is not providing any type of future worth the price.

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