Ralph Stanton was one of 16 workers exposed in an uncontrolled release of plutonium on Nov. 8, 2011, at the Idaho National Laboratory. The event happened two and a half years ago, but for Stanton, it might as well have been yesterday. Passionate, dogged and obsessed with telling his story, he's the kind of guy who will settle in for phone conversations lasting full afternoons, undertake eight-hour-long road trips to deliver documents and send text messages before dawn.
The anger he carries for the INL cannot be doused by any official document, scientific opinion or reassurance from upper management. Stanton filed a whistleblower complaint against INL in April 2013. Now, more than a year later, mediation between Stanton and the lab will begin at the end of May. If it doesn't work out, Stanton will wait for his chance in court to prove his claims.
While he feels the company that runs INL, Battelle Energy Alliance, should be held accountable in the public eye, the U.S. Department of Energy has a much different opinion. At the end of March 2014, BEA was awarded a contract renewal to run INL through September 2019. The DOE said it extended the contract because of BEA's consistently strong annual performance reviews.
Stanton still insists that his job, family and health have been shattered. INL says: Not by us.