Safety problems cited at new plant to treat Hanford radioactive waste

Bechtel National is making improvements to its safety program for hazardous energy controls after eight problems in eight months at a $12.2 billion plant under construction to treat radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state, where the U.S. produced plutonium for nuclear weapons.

It filed a report in November citing a recurring problem, according to a recently released weekly report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

No one was harmed in the incidents, but problems in following procedures to shut off energy sources -- such as the electrical supply or pressurized systems -- when work is being done has the potential to injure workers, the report said.

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