6 quit after pot found in meeting room at Hanford

The Benton County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that a small plastic bag found on the floor after a meeting at Hanford contained marijuana, according to Washington Closure Hanford.

All employees of the subcontractor that had been using the meeting room are being tested for drugs. However, six employees resigned rather than be tested.

The bag was found Aug. 8 in a conference room used by Washington Closure subcontractor S.M. Stoller at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

Stoller operates the facility, a huge, lined landfill in central Hanford for low-level radioactive and chemical waste, and had been holding its plan-of-the-day meeting.

Most, but not all people in the room, were Stoller employees.

Drug-sniffing dogs were brought in but did not locate additional contraband in the building or the parking lot.

Stoller has tested 108 employees and all results so far have been negative for drugs. The results for 18 employees are pending.

As a result of the incident, Stoller is working on developing a random drug testing program, said Brian Mathis, project manager for Stoller.

Stoller requires drug tests before employees are hired and when it has reasonable suspicion of drug use, including involvement in an accident.

It's similar to the Washington Closure drug testing policy, although Mathis said Stoller's policy for reasonable suspicion is more aggressive.

"Washington Closure and its subcontractors take workplace safety very seriously and have zero tolerance for any substances -- legal or illegal -- that alter worker physical or mental performance," said Washington Closure spokesman Todd Nelson. "Protection of our workers is paramount."

In most cases, workers who test positive for drugs or refuse to take a drug test lose their jobs, Nelson said.

However, in certain specialized cases, a worker may be suspended without pay until the worker can pass a drug test, enter treatment and agree to random drug testing.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald .com; more Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.