Mikael Thalen
February 19, 2014

A nuclear engineer who has continually warned of major safety issues at Washington state’s Hanford nuclear cleanup site was fired Tuesday after executives accused her of “unprofessional conduct.”

Image: Nuclear Fuel Storage Building (Hanford.gov)
Image: Nuclear Fuel Storage Building (Hanford.gov)

Donna Busche, the site’s environmental and nuclear safety manager, is now the third high-level employee to be removed after exposing Hanford’s growing danger.

The site, built in the 1940s as part of the Manhattan Project, is the most polluted nuclear waste site in the United States. Cleanup operations are currently being led by California-based URS Corp, who vehemently denies Busche was fired for her remarks.

“URS gave me no reason for my termination other than ‘unprofessional conduct.’ They gave me no documentation. They gave me no explanation,” Busche told CBS News.

According to Busche, URS has attempted to bypass thousands of the plant’s safety features with dangerous design tools, even barring her and her staff from conducting safety reviews.

“The Energy Department’s overall safety culture is broken and all they are doing now is sitting idly by,” Busche said.

Busche went as far as filing a federal lawsuit last year, claiming she had been punished for sounding the alarm and even predicting URS would soon fire her.

“I am a little numb,” Busche said. “I am going to take a deep breath because it has been a long five years with what I have gone through at the waste treatment plant.”

Not only has URS denied firing Busche for blowing the whistle, the company has remained mostly quiet on the countless safety issues brought up by multiple employees as well.

“Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny, and URS looks forward to demonstrating through the legal process that the company and its managers acted appropriately and in full compliance with the law in their dealings with Ms. Busche,” URS spokesman Sard Verbinnen said.

Busche joins others such as Walter Tamosaitis, the former head of research who was fired by URS shortly after his concerns prompted a federal investigation last year.

Despite reassurances from URS, the site continues to make headlines every few months as the situation becomes noticeably worse. Just last year, workers discovered six leaking storage tanks producing 1,600 times higher than normal radiation readings.

While no definitive connection has been made, some Washington residents speculate that Hanford is linked to the alarming rise in bizarre birth defects in neighboring counties.

The complete disregard for safety by the government and corporations at a location with the deadliest radioactive isotopes known to man exemplifies the current mentality by the power structure.

Unsurprisingly, the federal government’s response to the ongoing situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is eerily similar. Despite scientists confirming the presence of cesium-137 in kelp off the coast of San Diego, the federal government continues to downplay any possible danger.

This post originally appeared at Story Leak

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