From: Associated Press
Published March 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Contractor for Hanford Waste Cleanup Fined for Worker Contaminations

RICHLAND, Wash. — The company overseeing cleanup of highly radioactive waste on the Hanford nuclear reservation has been fined more than $300,000 for violating worker safety standards, the Department of Energy said Thursday.

A preliminary notice of violation against CH2M Hill Hanford Group Inc. cites four incidents of worker contamination. Several workers were contaminated while removing equipment from a valve pit in June 2003, and a worker was exposed to radiation while removing equipment from a tank in July 2004.

No regulatory radiation limit was exceeded in any incidents, but a worker was exposed to about half the annual radiation limit in one incident, the DOE said.

"These issues have been identified before and attempts at correction have not been effective," John Shaw, assistant secretary for environment, safety and health, said in a statement. "It is important that senior management get involved to be sure that these problems are corrected now."

CH2M Hill can seek to have the $316,250 fine reduced, and has 30 days to respond.

Company spokeswoman Joy Turner said CH2M Hill has taken corrective action.

"CH2M Hill is committed to working safely and protecting our workers," Turner said in a statement.

Since 1999, CH2M Hill has been the main contractor for 177 underground tanks holding about 53 million gallons of radioactive and toxic chemical waste.

For 40 years, the Hanford reservation made plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal. Today, work centers on a $50 billion to $60 billion cleanup to be finished by 2035.

Source: Associated Press

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