In 2002, researchers for another project — the replacement of the Alaskan Way viaduct — drilled down into the ground to take water samples.
The tunnel that Bertha's digging isn't another project — the whole reason for digging the tunnel is to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. See here.
The wells were drilled in 2002 to study the ground after the 2001 Nisqually quake. But that's a related project, because the Nisqually quake is the reason why we got to thinking about a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Am I making sense? I hope I'm making sense. At any rate, the story summary needs updating.
Most fusion reactions will also create waste, and any reaction that creates copious neutrons will be a proliferation risk.
I might be behind on my knowledge of fusion, but both of those statements sound suspect to me. Fusion waste consists of low-atomic-number elements, like Helium. And the radiation in a fusion reaction mainly occurs during the reaction, but not after, IIRC. The waste products do not constantly emit neutrons.
I have a hunch that she has an empathy for children which is what drove her to pursue the education thing. While it might be more practical to choose a different career, it is unlikely that she would ever be happy with anything less than engaging young minds.
Oh, how I wish I had mod points right now. This is an excellent point that is missing from almost all of the comments here.