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Whistleblower fired after reporting dangerous nuclear conditions

A nuclear power reservation manager, who had reported dangerous conditions at the facility, was fired in February for reasons that her employer claims are unrelated to her safety complaints. The woman had been reporting violations that she suspected were occurring at the plant. She is believed to be the second whistleblower to be fired at the company in less than half a year, which may send the wrong message to California workers who wish to report safety concerns.

The former employee at the Hanford Nuclear Power Reservation had begun raising safety concerns that she believed could lead to a hydrogen explosion or a nuclear chain reaction. She had been the manager of Environmental and Nuclear Safety at the Washington nuclear facility, and her termination may have led to fears within the company; the former manager said that one of her previous subordinates was afraid of being fired for doing his or her job.

The issue began due to concerns about a cleanup at a treatment facility that holds 53 million gallons of nuclear waste. Many of the underground tanks that store the nuclear material have leaked the substances into the ground. In October 2013, when the former manager first spoke of the situation with CBS News, it was stated that both the manager and her former colleague had been facing retaliation and harassment after raising concerns.

Getting fired for any reason is a stressful experience, but for those who are terminated for doing what they believe to be the right thing, the situation can become especially distressing. Certain laws were enacted to prevent employers from firing whistleblowers for reporting safety violations, though some companies do so regardless. An attorney may be able to thoroughly examine employment records to find evidence of wrongful termination so that the company may be held accountable.

Source: CBS, "Second whistleblower Donna Busche fired at troubled Wash. State Hanford nuke plant", February 19, 2014

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