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Workers Say Hanford Waste Treatment Plant Less Tidy, Serious Than Portrayed

File photo of the under-construction waste treatment plant at Hanford.
Anna King
Northwest News Network
File photo of the under-construction waste treatment plant at Hanford.

Hanford construction workers and managers testified in day two of a U.S. Department of Labor hearing Wednesday in Kennewick, where a different image emerged of  the site's under-construction waste treatment plant than is usually presented to the public.

The plant, which is supposed to treat millions of gallons of radioactive sludge when completed, has faced major delays. 

In the hearing, workers described management pranks that are too gross to detail, some where they were hurt. And this has become normal, they said. 

Some admitted to a practice called “pencil whipping” where work was officially signed off, but hadn’t been done.

The contracting companies’ lawyers made a case that managers only played harmless pranks, and that managers didn’t know jobs hadn’t been done by workers under them.

The hearing is to determine whether former worker Walt Ford should be awarded damages for losing his job.

The Labor Department found last year that Ford lost his job unfairly in 2011 for raising safety concerns while working at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant, and that he’s since been blacklisted from other jobs.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.