Scientist fired after criticizing Hanford, Wash., nuclear project

Oct. 4, 2013 at 10:53 AM
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HANFORD, Wash., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A senior scientist, who criticized a project to build a facility to treat nuclear waste at the Hanford nuclear complex in Washington, said he's been fired.

Walter Tamosaitis, 66, warned against the nuclear reservation's plan to clean up 53 million gallons of radioactive waste left over from 40 years of nuclear weapons production currently stored in aging, leaking tanks underground.

He said the plant might be dangerous, may not be able to treat as much waste as expected and could pose environmental dangers.

Shortly after he expressed his concerns, Tamosaitis said he was removed from the project and sent to work in a basement room without office furniture or a telephone.

On Wednesday, he was laid of from his job at the URS Corp. in San Francisco after 44 years with the company, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

URS refused to discuss the reason for Tamosaitis' removal, saying only that it pursues "a safety culture built on an environment of trust and mutual respect, worker engagement and open communication, an atmosphere that promotes questioning attitude with effective resolution of reported problems, and continuous learning."

Tamosaitis, who has a doctoral degree and once directed a staff of 100 scientists, believes he was laid off for criticizing the project.

"I enjoyed working and trying to do something for the country," he said. "They killed my career. It sends a message to everybody else that they shouldn't raise issues. Forty-four years of service, a PhD, a recognized expert in nuclear engineering -- none of that mattered."

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