A whistleblower who alerted the federal government of safety concerns at the Hanford Nuclear Site has been laid off by Hanford contractor URS Corp. This morning's Tri-City Herald reports that 44-year URS employee Walter Tamosaitis lost his position as research and technology manager at the Hanford vitrification plant in 2010, but continued to be employed by the contractor. Now he's been entirely cut loose.
In 2009 Tamosaitis asked feds to investigate the nuclear facility, claiming that safety and design concerns were being suppressed at the Washington operation. Regulators have since stopped construction on key parts of the vitrification plant until technical issues were addressed. And this past week the Department of Energy released the results of a new audit that found that Hanford had not followed procedures to prove that changes to the design of the vitrification plant equipment would be safe once the plant begins operating.
In the meantime, Tamosaitis is out of a job.
The Herald reports that, in order to receive severance pay from URS after being laid off, Tamosaitis was required to sign a document releasing URS from any liability.
Tamosaitis said he believes he was dismissed from URS for "persisting in raising concerns about the future safe operation of the plant." URS claims Tamosaitis was let go because his work was ended and "he was dismissed for writing a disrespectful email."