By Hal Bernton
Repeated engineering errors, construction deficiencies and other problems have repeatedly cropped up in the yearslong effort to build Hanford’s waste-treatment plant — issues serious enough to warrant possible work stoppages for some parts of the project according to a congressional report released Tuesday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report also found that federal Energy Department quality-assurance officials assigned to the waste-treatment project have sometimes had their findings altered by upper managers on the project who face “immense pressure” to meet cost and schedule targets.
A Hanford watchdog said the report’s findings echo the warnings of whistleblowers who for years have flagged safety problems.
Tom Carpenter, executive director of the Seattle-based Hanford Challenge, called for an independent assessment of the project by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“This is a quality-assurance program that is in deep trouble and this entire project is in deep trouble.”