RICHLAND — A federal grand jury has indicted 10 current or former managers and supervisors for a contractor at the Hanford nuclear reservation, accusing them of enabling timecard fraud.
Federal authorities have been investigating accusations of fraud at Hanford for several years.
CH2M Hill Hanford Group held a contract from 1999 to 2008 to clean out radioactive waste from underground tanks at the site, which produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear-weapons arsenal beginning in World War II and through the Cold War.
The indictment filed in U.S. District Court claims the company failed to follow a recommendation in a 2004 independent audit to install new timecard equipment to verify that employees worked the hours they claimed, the Tri-City Herald reported Wednesday.
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A spokesman for CH2M Hill’s parent company, Denver-based CH2M Hill Cos., did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The counts include conspiracy, submission of false claims, wire fraud, violation of the anti-kickback act and document alteration.
Two of those indicted no longer work at Hanford, the newspaper reported.
The eight others still work at the Hanford site for current contractor Washington River Protection Solutions, company spokesman Jerry Holloway confirmed. He declined to comment further.
At the time of the contract, CH2M Hill offered shifts to radiological-control technicians in eight-hour blocks, to get them to agree to evening and night overtime work, because overtime was voluntary. According to court documents, the work often could be done in less time, but workers would claim a full eight hours of overtime on their timecards.
Although CH2M Hill no longer holds the contract for tank-waste cleanup, it is under contract to clean up another section of the 586-square-mile Hanford site.
Nine people already have pleaded guilty to felony charges in the timecard scheme, the Tri-City Herald reported. Earlier this month, the paper said, CH2M Hill agreed to pay $18.5 million to the U.S. government to settle civil and criminal allegations of defrauding taxpayers.