background_fid.jpg
Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Environment and Planning
00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d430000The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington was home to Native Americans and later to settlers. It turned into an top-secret military workhorse during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it’s one of the most pressing and complex environmental cleanup challenges humanity is facing in the world.This remote area in southeast Washington is where the federal government made plutonium for bombs during WWII and the Cold War. It’s now home to some of the most toxic contamination on earth, a witch’s brew of chemicals, radioactive waste and defunct structures. In central Hanford, leaking underground tanks full of radioactive sludge await a permanent solution. Meanwhile, a massive $12 billion waste treatment plant, designed to bind up that tank waste into more stable glass logs, has a troubled history.00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d440000Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Hanford Whistleblower Moving On With Life After Settling For $4.1 Million

081315AK_Tamosaitis.jpeg
Anna King
/
Northwest News Network
Walter Tamosaitis says he's looking forward to working on his old Model A car, maybe acting as a consultant and giving talks now that he's wrapped up a settlement for $4.1 million.

A Hanford nuclear site whistleblower says he’s ready to get back to work. He settled his legal battle Wednesday for $4.1million.

Tamosaitis was one of the top managers building one of the most complex radioactive waste treatment plants in the world at Hanford. But when he raised serious safety concerns, he was escorted out of the building. He was then assigned to a basement office -- sharing it with a copy machine.

Among Tamosaitis’s main concerns was large mixing vessels might not stir up the radioactive waste well enough and could cause an explosion. He also felt that the federal government and its contractors were suppressing a healthy safety culture.

Tamosaitis said he’s relieved to move on.

“I really feel that I have a lot of energy left, I can make a lot of contributions and I’m hopeful that there’s an ethical company out there that might want a good manager,” he said.

The federal contractor AECOM said in a statement that quote: “The company [AECOM] strongly disagrees that it retaliated against him [Walter Tamosaitis] in any manner.”