NBC Right Now (Yakima, WA), May 1, 2014 (h/t Stock): Hanford union workers tell NBC Right Now there was an explosion at the plutonium finishing plant cleanup site weeks ago, but the event wasn’t shared with the public.
The Hanford union representative says it happened when workers were cutting some pipe as part of the demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant [PFP]. The union representative wants to remain anonymous and says workers are concerned management isn’t putting worker safety first. [...] Workers describe the explosion as a spark then flames that shot out of a pipe and a loud bang [...] We’re told it happened two weeks ago [...] Workers say they think the contractor is playing down the explosion and possible safety concerns to protect themselves from fines and work delays. [...] The union representative says management wants to keep experienced workers quiet.
Hanford Union Representative: “Having a pipe explode at probably the most contaminated facility in the United States. This is one of the most hazardous buildings in the U.S. [...] Management continues to call it a small pop even though the workers say no this thing was a big, loud bang like a shot gun blast [...] People bring up concerns and they fall on deaf ears, especially at this facility. It’s like they’re dumbing it down because if this becomes a big concern, then they’re not going to be able to remove the pipe in a timely manor. Well, that’s not the concern. I could care less about your time frame and how much money you’re going to make when you get that pipe out. My concern is the people cutting the pipe in the first place and that doesn’t seem to be their concern. [...] PFP is not wanting to use experienced individuals anymore because we’re bringing up too many concerns in this plant. They want to bring in the guy that’s not going to ask any questions and they’ve started to do so.”
Department of Energy: “The Department of Energy is overseeing the contractor’s response and will continue to evaluate their investigation into the cause of the event and corrective actions.”
KVEW (ABC), May 2, 2014: Investigation Underway Following Pipe Explosion at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant — An investigation is underway following a pipe explosion last month at the Hanford site’s Plutonium Finishing Plant. A spokesman for the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company says the employees were cutting a pipe on April 17th when they heard a loud bang and witnessed a small flame emit from the end of the pipe.