Worker falling into Hanford septic tank leads to fine via Tri-City Herald

A Hanford contractor will pay a fine after one of its subcontractor’s employees fell into a liquid-filled, abandoned septic tank at the nuclear reservation.

Washington River Protection Solutions has agreed to a consent order requiring it to pay the Department of Energy $45,000 and improve safety and response processes. The DOE Office of Enforcement investigated the incident.

Questions were raised, including about a delay in calling for an emergency response.


Three construction workers with American Electric Inc. were digging by hand to locate an out-of-service septic tank in the AX Tank Farm in central Hanford on Jan. 21, according to the consent order. The tank farm has underground tanks of radioactive waste, with the septic tank part of the support infrastructure for work.

All three were wearing protective clothing and were carrying tanks with a one-hour supply for their supplied air respirators.

As the workers dug, part of the top of the tank collapsed.

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