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Washington State Steps Up To Sue Over Hanford Tank Farm Vapors

Washington state intends to sue the federal government if Hanford workers are not better protected at the tank farms on the site.
Anna King
/
Northwest News Network
Washington state intends to sue the federal government if Hanford workers are not better protected at the tank farms on the site.

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington have been complaining of vapors from radioactive sludge for decades.

They say the fumes give them sore throats, headaches and dizziness. Now Washington state says it intends to sue the U.S. Department of Energy in 90 days if more isn’t done to protect these workers.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the state has been working with the Energy department and its contractors for decades to better protect workers at the tank farms. The farms hold 56 million gallons of radioactive waste from making plutonium during WWII and the Cold War.

The state’s decision to possibly sue follows an independent report on the tank vapors from last month. It says there is a link between these vapors and worker health. Ferguson said he’s looking for an agreement with the federal government that would be enforceable by the court.

Copyright 2014 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.