Taxpayers won't pay Hanford contractor's legal expenses

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — Taxpayers are not on the hook for $500,000 in legal fees of the contractor building the nuclear waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

The Tri-City Herald reports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Energy does not need to reimburse Bechtel National for its expenses in two racial discrimination lawsuits brought by former employees.

The contractor settled the cases in 2012. Bechtel sued for reimbursement after department in 2016 declined to pay the legal fees.

The contractor argued that the department had always reimbursed Bechtel for lawsuit costs.

Bechtel spokesman George Rangel says the contractor is still assessing the ruling.

He says the vitrification plant project is committed to a discrimination-free work environment.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com