Hanford Whistleblower Fired Tuesday
Woman who complained of safety issues in 2011 let go.
50-year-old Donna Busche, who voiced concerns about safety issues at the area, was told by URS Corp. she was being fired for cause.
While URS officials have not responded to media requests for comment, the human resources page at About.com says termination "for cause" is considered serious. The HR site says it can result because of a severe error in judgement by the worker, not following company procedures including ethics or codes of conduct, falsifying records, lying, failing a drug test or other forms of what is called "grave misconduct."
Also, according to the site, when an employee is fired "for cause," the employer will often NOT have to pay for unemployment compensation, and companies that do so are discouraged from paying severance to the worker.
She had filed a number of reports claiming since she first aired her concerns three years ago, she has suffered harassment and retaliation. Bechtel officials in the past said her complaints were without merit, have not publicly released information about the termination. At the time of her complaint, she was the manager for environmental and nuclear safety at the cleanup site.
She had raised concerns about the safety and durability of the VIT plan design at Hanford, saying new information about the amount of hazardous waste indicated there was more present in the tanks than previously thought. She also voiced concerns about the durability of the VIT plant to withstand the rigors of glassifying nuclear waste, because once the plant began running there would be no way to go back inside and fix any issues. The inside would be far too radioactive for any person - even with the most advanced protection gear - to withstand the levels.
Construction of the plant has been halted over these safety concerns.