Hanford plant subject of defense board hearing

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KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) -- A federal board that makes safety recommendations about the nation's nuclear facilities will hold a public meeting Thursday in Kennewick about a waste treatment plant under construction at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

It's the second time the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is taking testimony in Washington over Hanford's vitrification plant. The $12.3 billion plant has been the subject of increasing scrutiny after several workers raised concerns about the plant's safe operation.

The plant is currently scheduled to begin operating in 2019. It is being built to convert highly radioactive waste that is stored in underground tanks into glasslike logs for permanent disposal.

The board will hear testimony about several unresolved technical issues and the plant's safety culture, including whether workers are comfortable raising concerns.