Defense safety board criticizes Hanford project

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RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) -- A new report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board criticizes the safety culture at a $12.2 billion project at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Contractor Bechtel National is building a vitrification plant that will convert highly radioactive waste into glass-like logs for permanent disposal underground.

The board's investigation found that the U.S. Department of Energy and Bechtel reinforce a safety culture that deters timely reporting and resolution of safety concerns.

The board began investigating management attitudes and policies toward safety after a former engineering manager alleged he lost his position because he raised concerns.

Bechtel spokeswoman Suzanne Heaston says the company is committed to a strong safety culture and has enhanced its communication of expectations for safety and training.

An Energy Department spokeswoman says the agency will review the recommendations.