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Sick Hanford workers say safety still not a priority


About 50 workers from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation complained about health and safety issues at a meeting in Richland on Tuesday night. The conference was organized by Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group.

Most who attended the meeting complained they aren’t being compensated adequately for their health problems. They also said Hanford contractors and the federal government aren’t keeping workers safe in places like the nuclear waste tank farms.

“I don’t know that I am scared to bring up things that are safety related or anything,” said Judy Krzan, a truck driver on the Hanford site, “but I feel like I get labeled, or a lot of people that bring up safety issues get labeled as trouble makers. And so it makes you where you just want to keep your head down and go to work. It makes for an environment if there is something really serious you really don’t want to bring it up.”

Federal Department of Energy and Washington Department of Ecology officials also attended the meeting, but they remained largely silent. This is the first of what Hanford Challenge expects to be several meetings about health and safety concerns on the reservation.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio

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.