Summary: The Department of Energy announced major delays in the building of the Hanford nuclear waste treatment plant yesterday. The plant will be delayed by at least a year while serious technical problems alleged by whistleblowers are resolved. The plant was currently slated to begin operations in 2019 (12 years late), but a number of whistleblowers have come forward with safety issues, particularly about erosion in tanks and piping. The delays and new safety tests that will be conducted are likely to up the bill by tens of millions of dollars.
Key Quote: Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge, a group representing the whistleblowers, called Tuesday's development "huge" and said he's glad the Energy Department is paying attention to safety issues that are far more important than the cost and schedule.
"You just can't help but wonder what took them so long," he said.
Now, the Energy Department and its contractors must work to rebuild their credibility and salvage the project following months of friction, he said.
"This isn't a situation where we're trying to stop a facility. We want to see it proceed," he said. "But we want it to proceed safely."
Summary: The Ecuadorian embassies in the US and UK have been flooded with messages of support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his bid for political asylum. More than 10,000 messages have been received, mostly asking the Ecuador government to grant Assange asylum.
Summary: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered a trucking company to reinstate an employee who was fired after he refused to drive while tired and ill. The company must also pay him $180,000 in back pay and damages. OSHA found that the company had violated the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
Summary: In a blog post this morning, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack criticizes the mainstream media for not making a proper distinction between “leaking” and whistleblowing.
Summary: Several employees of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Correction have filed a whistleblower suit against the agency, alleging certain detention centers are understaffed and have major security problems.
Summary: A private Australian hospital has been accused of harassing staff – particularly nurses – who complained about a psychiatrist on staff. The hospital is also the subject of other whistleblower complaints alleging improper prescriptions and Medicare fraud.
Summary: The annual report by the Saskatchewan, Canada privacy commissioner says that the province needs better whistleblower protections. When whistleblowers come forward to the privacy office with possible wrongdoing, the commissioner “has to tell them to proceed at their own risk.”
GAP's Canadian counterpart – FAIR – advocates for better protections for whistleblowers.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.