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Washington House Passes Protections For Sick Hanford Workers

Three groups say intend to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and a contractor over vapors from storage tanks at Hanford.
Anna King
/
Northwest News Network
Three groups say intend to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and a contractor over vapors from storage tanks at Hanford.

The Washington state House has voted to give added protections to sick workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In a 69 to 29 vote Thursday afternoon, the House approved a measure that says if a Hanford worker gets one of several diseases or conditions, it’s presumed to be work-related.

Democrat Gerry Pollet gave the example of Chronic Beryllium Disease.

“A transitory exposure to the beryllium dust can cause a disease that will kill you in 10 or 15 years after horrible debilitation,” he said.

Pollet credited KING TV’s ongoing coverage of sick workers at Hanford for bringing attention to this issue. The bill is designed to make it easier for any Hanford site worker who gets sick to collect workers’ compensation.

The measure now goes to the Washington state Senate.

Workers at Hanford are cleaning up 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge left over from making plutonium during World War II and the Cold War.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."