One candidate for Washington state auditor is interested in what oversight the office could have over the Hanford nuclear reservation, he said during a visit to the Tri-Cities this week.
Jeff Sprung, one of two Democrats who have filed for the auditor race, was scheduled this week to tour Hanford’s HAMMER training center and meet with local Union 598, which has filed a lawsuit to better protect Hanford workers from chemical vapors.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy is running as a Democrat and state Sen. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way has filed as a Republican for the office, now held by indicted state Auditor Troy Kelley.
Sprung is a Seattle attorney specializing in whistleblower cases, including the 1999 case brought by the former auditor for Fluor Daniel Hanford and Westinghouse Hanford Co. accusing the contractors of inflating labor costs billed to the federal government. The contractors denied the wrongdoing and the case was settled.
Sprung also serves on the advisory board of Hanford Challenge, a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog.
I have questions about whether the Department of Energy is doing the best job a government agency could do.
Jeff Sprung, state auditor candidate
If elected, he would look for the widest possible role of the auditor’s office to make sure environmental cleanup money is spent effectively, he said.
It could mean focusing on agencies conducting oversight of Hanford, which is a federal project, and ensuring work is being done in a way to promote the quickest cleanup possible, he said. The state of Washington is a Hanford regulator and responsible for radiation protection for the public.
His goal is a thriving Tri-Cities and cleanup moving forward, he said.
“I have questions about whether the Department of Energy is doing the best job a government agency could do,” he said.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has nuclear safety expertise that could contribute to effective cleanup, he said.
Sprung’s interest in protecting whistleblowers stems from his father’s experience as an Auschwitz prisoner who escaped the Nazis during the prisoner death march as Soviet troops approached the camp.
“My parents taught my brother and me to stick up for the people who do not have a voice in the system,” he said.