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Energy Secretary: Communication At Hanford Tank Farms Needs Improvement

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said workers at Hanford tank farms who say radioactive waste is making them sick need to be heard.

In June, Moniz commissioned an independent study of how things are going at Hanford’s tank farms. That team just collected the last of their data. They interviewed workers, and looked at vapor sampling data and worker safety programs.

Moniz said there is one take-away already: tank farm workers closest to the work should be better heard.

“And so we need to get that management/worker communication frankly improved,” he said.

Moniz told reporters he intends to make all that collected data and Energy’s conclusions public -- although we don’t know when.

Workers at the tank farms keep stopping work saying they are smelling harmful vapors that make them sick. Washington state even has a fresh court date with Energy coming up in October over it.

Hanford’s tank farms hold millions of gallons of radioactive sludge in underground tanks the size of a house. The tanks were built largely during World War II and the Cold War.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.