Last week, two Hanford Challenge staff traveled to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) DC Days. It was a great opportunity to meet community organizations from across the country who are committed to worker safety, accountability, and sustainable waste cleanup. Idaho’s Snake River Alliance, Georgia’s Women’s Alliance for New Directions and Southwest Research and Information Center were just a few of the inspirational groups doing crucial work across the country. We also met with state representatives and Department of Energy staff to discuss Hanford specific issues such as: a call for increased accountability for contractors, the need for new tanks, worker health and safety and the importance of engaging communities.
The ANA DC Days also recognized the work of whistleblowers who sacrificed their personal careers for the safety of workers, the public, and the environment. One was Jon Lipsky who led the 1989 raid that closed the Rocky Flats Plant – a nuclear weapons production facility near Denver, CO. He was part of the FBI team that discovered numerous violations of anti-pollution laws, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act.
Another influential whistleblower is Chuck Montaño at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is a former investigator and auditor at Los Alamos who blew the whistle on wasteful spending and fraud at the nuclear weapons lab. He was in DC with ANA calling for serious reform in whistleblower protection and policy to battle the grave problem with Department of Energy safety culture.
It is important that organizations and individuals across the country have opportunities to connect, learn, and strengthen their work for increased nuclear accountability. Those partnerships play a crucial role in sustainable cleanup efforts at the Hanford site. We look forward to building (or continuing to build) relationships and collaborative efforts.