Battelle, Bechtel, Bill Dudley, Bob Dudley, BP, contractors, corruption, criticality event, DOE, Dudley, engineering, Federal Reserve, Frank Russo, fraud, Hanford Site, Hydrogen explosion, nuclear clean-up, nuclear waste, NY Fed, oversight, PNNL, Pork Barrel, Senate Subcommittee financial contracting oversight, settlement, tax theft, taxes, Taxpayer, URS, US Senate, Vitrification, Walter Tamosaitis, Washington, Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, whistleblower, whistleblower protection, William Dudley, WTP
“When I first arrived in April 2003 I was asked the bus ticket question by several employees: “Do you have your bus ticket?” I said “no” and asked “why?” Their response was: “Bechtel Engineering is building the plant so poorly that everyone in Engineering has a bus ticket to get out of town before they push the start button. You don’t want to be left behind.” (Walter Tamosaitis, 2013)
Hanford Waste Treatment Plant STILL under construction
“The issues I raised relate to hydrogen gas explosions, uncontrolled nuclear reactions (a criticality), environmental releases, and plant pluggages that could render the plant non-operable.” (Walter Tamosaitis, 2013). He’s talking nuclear radiation here!
“Ending years of legal wrangling, a whistleblower who raised safety concerns regarding operations at the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington has won a $4.1 million settlement, his lawyer announced Wednesday. Walter Tamosaitis, an engineer, worked over four decades for Hanford subcontractor URS (now AECOM), a subcontractor to Bechtel.” http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/14/nuclear-waste-site-whistleblower-vindicated-41-million-settlement
Unfortunately, Walter Tomosaitis settled with AECOM, who bought Bechtel subcontractor URS. It would have gone to trial next year. This means that the taxpayer will not be reimbursed the legal fees, which they paid URS to defend itself against Walter Tomosaitis (i.e. against safety), as explained below. A lot of important info could have come out at trial. It would have been bad PR for the contractors. However, one cannot blame him. He probably couldn’t afford to hang on another year.
He testifies to inner machinations at Bechtel, URS (before it was acquired by AECOM), and the DOE; how they waste taxpayer monies, all while apparently endangering public safety. Risks from potential hydrogen explosions and criticality accidents are deadly serious in nature. The most shocking is that a boss (Waste Treatment Plant project manager) from Bechtel had only a BS undergraduate degree in Political Science! Also, the people at the DOE lack appropriate qualifications needed for oversight. Surprisingly, Bechtel belongs mostly or entirely to the Bechtel family. So, they could do things right more easily, but apparently do not want to. They are clearly super-greedy people and not too bright. There is no other planet to go to once this one is destroyed.
Here are a few highlights from his March 2013 testimony before the US Senate. The entire text is found below the highlights.
“In light of how Bechtel and URS have misled key stakeholders, pressured people to give the answer they wanted, fired people who speak out, and treated personnel, especially on the heels of Secretary Moniz’s written statement, there will be no controlling contractors in the future if nothing is done now. Now is the time to affect change and make improvements.”
“DOE contracts do not put an onus on the contractors to do the right things. For example, when it comes to whistleblowers and employee concerns, contractors are periodically reimbursed for all their legal expenses. If the contractors are found guilty, they may be requested to reimburse the government. So what does a contractor do? They drag out the legal action as long as possible and then settle if they think they will lose. A settlement is not a finding of guilt so they do not have to pay back expenses. The outside lawyers they hire are paid by the hour so they have no incentive to seek a resolution. And where do the funds come from to reimburse the contractors? From taxpayer funds of course. My personal estimate for the reimbursements made to Bechtel and URS to fight my legal suits including their outside lawyers, internal lawyers, travel, surveys, consultants, research, legal submittals, depositions, human relations support and all such associated costs is well over $2M. Meanwhile concerned employees are paying for their defense out of their pocket in addition to the emotional and financial stress of losing his or her job. This needs to change.”
“In summary, the approach used by the contractors in the DOE EM business is to treat people however they want to and do just enough work so they are not replaced on the contract. The longer they stay with the contract, the more money they make. If a problem develops, their first course of action is to declare a scope change, claim it is DOE’s responsibility, and request more money from DOE. Via this approach they get additional funding to solve the problems that should have been solved correctly the first time. Originally Bechtel said the WTP would cost $4.6B and be running in 2008. Today, neither Bechtel, URS, nor DOE can give an accurate estimate to what the final cost will be and when the WTP will start up. Some current external estimates are that it will cost over $30B and start up in the early 2030’s.”
“Contractors squelch, retaliate and take punitive measures against employees that speak up.”
“In mid-March 2010, a DOE Senior Scientist, Dr. Donald Alexander, raised a technical concern about the mixing of radioactive waste in tanks that could result in a criticality or the trapping of hydrogen gas. It was clear to everyone that if Dr. Alexander was correct, much more testing would be needed, the June 30th date would not be met, and the $5M lost. I offered to review Dr. Alexander’s recommendation to see if I considered it valid. Bechtel and URS management gave me the guidance that they wanted me to “oppose and kill” Dr. Alexander’s concern. Upon review I determined that Dr. Alexander’s concern was valid and stated so in a meeting…”
“Despite all the personal pressure, financial pressure, and intimidation Bechtel management put on Battelle and PNNL management, they did not cave-in and they stood their ground. They would not give their approval to the Bechtel path forward. They knew what Bechtel wanted to do was clearly wrong. PNNL management followed up their meeting with Mr. Russo by sending him a seven page list of technical concerns that had to be addressed. Much credit should be given to Battelle/PNNL management for maintaining their position as it reflects positively on their high ethics and values.”
“The goal of the companies is to do the minimum needed to keep the project funds flowing while not getting fired for incompetence. They make this money whether they are moving forward, backward, or not at all. If a major problem develops, they blame it on DOE. This is the only business where you get paid to correct the problems you create.”
“Bechtel and URS will use all and every delay tactic to wear down the concerned employee with the hope he will become tired and financially exhausted and drop a law suit. Meanwhile all of Bechtel’s and URS’s legal expenses are reimbursed by the DOE from taxpayer funds. It does not cost them a cent to fight an employee. Even as I attend this hearing today, I had to personally pay my own way while everyone attending for Bechtel, URS, and DOE will have their expenses reimbursed.”
“DOE is out-manned and out-gunned when it comes to managing the contractors. What I mean is that they do not have enough people, they do not have enough people with technical degrees, and if they have technical degrees they are not engineers. DOE management must rely on the input and honesty of the contractors when addressing technical projects and programs. The contractors manipulate and mislead DOE. As an example, for several years while I was the R&T manager there was not one person with an engineering degree in the DOE organizational chain from my counterpart within DOE to the Secretary of Energy. Dr. Chu was Ph.D. physicist, Mr. Poneman a lawyer, and there were several chemists. Certainly all very good degrees but no one with an engineering degree. And to make matters worse, in the WTP, the Bechtel/URS personnel to DOE oversight personnel ratio exceeds 100:1.
– The contractors have gotten away with manipulating DOE and misrepresenting the facts for so long that it is now standard operating procedure. The contractors seem to believe they are above the law and can do what they, because they can work their way out of any situation. Now is the time for change.
– Finally, DOE operated under a cloak of secrecy for many years touting national security when questioned. Today, they tout clean up needs and emergencies. Within DOE, as a result of the input from their contractors they operate in a mode of seclusion or crisis, keeping the public in the dark. DOE needs to operate the cleanup operations like a business, not like a cold war program….” Excerpted from Dr. Walter L. Tamosaitis, Ph.D., P.E., Before the US Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight on “Whistleblower Protection at the Hanford Nuclear Site”, March 11, 2013. http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/download/?id=99C982C8-1583-486B-A926-602322A936F1
Yellow, red, blue highlights added. Some black highlights were at the original (see link above).
(Red, Yellow, Blue emphasis added. On page 12 our blue emphasis appears black. It wasn’t underlined in original.) Original here: http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/download/?id=99C982C8-1583-486B-A926-602322A936F1
List of Congress members who have received funding from those affiliated with Bechtel (explained at bottom of link): https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cycle=2014&cmte=C00103697
Mr. Poli Sci, Frank Russo, left for Bechtel in the UK in 2013, and as of 2013 Craig Albert was still in charge it seems:
“In 2001, Bechtel began work on the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford site in Washington state. The project is a highly complex plant for the treatment of radioactive liquid waste that has employed new technologies and construction techniques that are the first of their kind. As of 2013, it is considered the most complex project in the United States. Management of the project has been the subject of controversy including Department of Energy’s Inspector General reports and Government Accountability Office studies regarding rising costs, nuclear safety and quality, and whistleblower allegations. For example, in 2013 the DOE Inspector General concluded that “Bechtel determined that there was a systemic problem and a breakdown in controls over the review of design changes,” but that the company had taken steps to correct the problems….” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel
It’s a strange coincidence that the heads of Bechtel, BP, and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY are all named Dudley. Is Dudley so common a name?
Bill Dudley CEO of Bechtel
Bob Dudley CEO of BP
“William C. Dudley became the 10th president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on January 27, 2009.”