Hanford nuclear plant's environmental manager claims she was fired for whistleblowing

LOS ANGELES - Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on Wednesday called for an investigation after a second whistleblower was fired from the cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

CBS News first spoke with the whistleblower, Donna Bushce, last year, when she raised concerns about the project.

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Donna Busche
CBS News
 For the last five years, Busche was manager of environmental and nuclear safety at Hanford, which is filled with radioactive waste from building nuclear bombs. She was fired on Tuesday.

"I think they were retaliating against me for my ongoing outspokenness," she said.

In 2010 she warned supervisors and regulators about design flaws that she said could lead to a radioactive explosion at Hanford. The $13 billion government project will dispose of 53 million gallons of nuclear waste

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation is filled with radioactive waste
CBS News
 Busche worked for subcontractor URS.

"The senior URS manager told me, with no introduction, that I had behaved unprofessionally or had professional misconduct and I was terminated for cause," Busche said.

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Walter Tamosaitis
CBS News
 CBS News spoke with Walter Tamosaitis shortly after he was fired last fall. He said he was shocked.

The nuclear engineer told Congress in 2011 about the risks at Hanford. Construction was halted because of safety concerns that he raised.

 Tamosaitis said URS told he was fired due to cutbacks.

URS declined requests for an interview, but in a statement said: "URS encourages its employees to raise concerns about safety." 

 The company claims there was no retaliation. "Ms. Busche's employment was terminated...due to issues unrelated to her purported concerns," it said.

"Summarily removing me from the project sends a clear and present message to the employees that if you speak up, if you stand up you will be terminated," Busche said.

She is now planning a wrongful termination suit.


  • Carter Evans

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