OSHA: Hanford Contractor Must Pay $220,000 in Back Wages to Whistleblower

A contractor for the Department of Energy’s decommissioned Hanford nuclear site in Washington state has been ordered to reinstate an environmental specialist and pay more than $220,000 in back wages and other expenses after it fired the employee for voicing nuclear and environmental safety concerns.

OSHA took the actions against Washington River Protection Solutions after the employee repeatedly reported nuclear and environmental safety and permit and record keeping violations. When the employer advertised the vacant position, the employer refused to rehire the employee despite adequate qualifications and previous satisfactory performance reviews, according to OSHA.

“The people most able to identify hazards are often the workers who are threatened by them,” said Galen Lemke, OSHA’s acting regional administrator. “Employees must never be punished for sounding an alarm when they see a problem that could injure, sicken or kill someone, or harm the environment.”

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