Hanford report: "Chilled" safety culture no issue

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- A new report concludes that the U.S. Department of Energy and its cleanup contractors do not generally discourage employees from raising safety concerns at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site.

The report differs starkly from earlier findings of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which raised concerns about the safety culture at the Hanford nuclear reservation's waste treatment plant. The one-of-a-kind plant is being built to convert highly radioactive waste into a stable glass form.

Tom Carpenter of the worker advocacy group Hanford Challenge criticized the report Thursday as being bought and paid for by contractor Bechtel National Inc. and says Congress will likely have to resolve questions about the plant's safety culture.

Two Hanford workers have filed suit, claiming they were targeted for reprisals after raising safety concerns.