March 24, 2022

Allegations Regarding Management of the Substance Abuse Program at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant

The Hanford Site (Hanford) was established during World War II to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons.  Hanford’s mission is now primarily site cleanup and environmental restoration to protect the public and the environment. 

The Department of Energy's Office of River Protection is responsible for the management and oversight of the design, construction, and commissioning of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP).  The design and construction of WTP is contracted to Bechtel National, Inc. (Bechtel).  Under the terms of its contract, the Department requires Bechtel to take certain actions to maintain a drug free workplace and implement a random drug testing program.  

In May 2021, the Office of Inspector General received allegations concerning Bechtel’s management of drug-related issues at WTP.  Specifically, the complainant alleged: (1) management was unresponsive to and under-reported a growing trend of substance abuse at WTP, and (2) WTP employees could readily cheat on random drug tests because the testing protocols and deterrence measures were inadequate.  We conducted this inspection to determine the facts and circumstances regarding alleged substance abuse at Hanford’s WTP.  

We did not substantiate the allegation that Bechtel management at Hanford’s WTP was unresponsive to and under-reported a growing trend of substance abuse, and we did not substantiate the allegation that drug testing protocols were inadequate to prevent cheating.  During our inspection we received another allegation that Bechtel had not met annual drug testing requirements, which we also did not substantiate.  On the contrary, we found that management had taken several actions to address drug-related concerns.  Drug-related incidents declined since mid-2019, and drug test failure trends were relatively stable since May 2019.  In addition, we found that management had implemented drug testing protocols that were consistent with Federal requirements. 

We did not identify any issues that needed to be addressed; therefore, we made no recommendations or suggested actions.