O'Leary announcement

Joseph Carson (73530.2350@compuserve.com)
23 Apr 96 00:36:51 EDT

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[105] From: ADMINISTRATOR at EH 4/19/96 3:23PM (3531 bytes: 71 ln)
Subject: Secretary Commits to Review of Whistleblower Cases
------------------------------- Message Contents -------------------------------

Joanna Stancil, 202/586-5806 April 18, 1996

Energy Secretary Commits to Review of Longstanding
Whistleblower Cases Hails Hanford Joint Council Success

Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary announced
today during her visit to the Hanford, Washington site
that the Department of Energy (DOE) will develop a
mechanism by the end of July 1996 for reviewing and
where possible resolving longstanding whistleblower
cases. These cases occurred prior to April 1992 when
procedures were issued establishing the department's
Office of Contractor Employee Protection. Secretary
O'Leary also recognized the success of the Hanford Joint
Council, an independent entity established in May 1994
by a unique public-private agreement with Westinghouse
Hanford Company, public interest groups, Washington
Department of Ecology, and the Department of Energy.
The Hanford Joint Council's purpose is to resolve
Hanford whistleblower concerns by constructive means,
and to avoid costly litigious approaches to safety and
other related issues.

"No other site has done anything like this.
This is a brand-new, home-grown concept that Hanford
stakeholders should be proud of. It is a kind of
whistleblower "safe house" that workers can turn to when
they can't get resolution through channels other than
litigation. Its value will only increase as workers
learn about the council and its early positive results,"
said O'Leary.

In addition to developing a mechanism for
longstanding whistleblower cases, Secretary O'Leary 's
commitments to Hanford and other whistleblowers include:

-- address immediately cases of three recently
separated Hanford whistleblowers using the
Hanford Joint Council or other mutually
acceptable process,

-- establish an enhanced employee concerns office
at DOE Headquarters to coordinate unresolved
contractor and federal employee concerns by
the end of July 1996, and

-- conduct an evaluation of Hanford employee
concerns program.

The Secretary also announced that Hanford will be
entering into an agreement with the Federal Mediation
and Conciliation Service to assist the site with
alternate methods of dispute resolution, including in
the area of employee concerns.

"Whistleblowers at Hanford, and around the Energy
Department's former nuclear weapons complex, have waited
long enough. They need the assurance that our government
will not allow their cases to linger into the next century
before a decision is made," said O'Leary.