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DOE, Bechtel Jacobs reach settlement in lawsuit on radioactive waste disposal.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Bechtel Jacobs reached a settlement in a lawsuit involving allegations that the DOE contractor improperly handled and disposed of radioactive waste from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky.

The $230,000 settlement in federal district court in Paducah did not require that Bechtel Jacobs to admit fault related to the alleged improper disposals from 1998 through 2004. Two former employees at the Paducah plant, which produces enriched uranium for use by nuclear power facilities, began the litigation in 2002. The lawsuit centered on allegations brought by two former Bechtel Jacobs employees.

Gary Vander Boegh held various positions, including landfill manager, during 14 years at the plant. George Johnson also in various jobs for 13years. In the lawsuit, the two men alleged Bechtel Jacobs, which had contracted with DOE, improperly subcontracted with a company called Weskem to dispose of radioactive waste, although Weskem did not have the proper licenses and permits required to perform such work. The lawsuit alleged the result was that DOE was billed for services related to waste removal from April 1996 through January 2002.

The waste allegedly was improperly handled as "nonhazardous" when it should have been dealt with as hazardous waste. In addition, "no radiation added" waste allegedly was stored at the Paducah plant and disposed of at a site designated for radioactive waste, although disposing of it at the plant's sanitary landfill would have been less expensive.

The settlement agreement also covers allegations that Bechtel Jacobs disposed of waste at the plant's sanitary landfill even though those wastes contained excessive amounts of free liquids between February and July 2004.

Bechtel Jacobs worked at the plant through the end of 2005.

DOE subsequently awarded the environmental management contract at Paducah to Paducah Remediation Services, a partnership between Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure and Portage Environmental.

Johnson was listed in the lawsuit as last working at the plant on Aug. 31, 2003. Vander Boegh lost his job at the plant in 2006. Vander Boegh sued, contending that his termination resulted due to his whistleblowing activities.

A federal district judge dismissed that lawsuit in May, holding that Vander Boegh could not show that the current contractors at the plant knew about his prior activities.

A group of residents who live near the plant a $1.75 million settlement in April 2010 with Lockheed Martin over allegations that improperly disposed of waste and contaminated water that leaked from the plant devalued their properties.

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Publication:Nuclear Waste News
Date:Sep 10, 2012
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