Hanford lawsuit dropped after feds refuse to take over

A lawsuit that was critical of the way a Hanford tank farm contractor trains its workers who are protecting against chemical vapors has been dropped.

The voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit comes after the Department of Justice declined to join the federal suit.

Kevin Newcomb, a former industrial hygiene technician at the Hanford site for more than 20 years, filed the lawsuit against tank farm contractor Washington River Protection Solutions under the federal False Claims Act.

If the Department of Justice intervenes in such federal cases, whistleblowers, like Newcomb, may receive part of any money recovered. The act potentially rewards their efforts to expose government fraud.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2017 and the Justice Department announced its decision not to join the lawsuit in June.

Newcomb claimed that the tank farm contractor has allowed inexperienced and unqualified industrial hygiene technicians to work in the Hanford nuclear reservation tank farms, where tank waste can release harmful chemical vapors.