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Hanford Workers Say They’re Not Satisfied With Working Conditions At Tank Farms

Anna King
Dozens of workers from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation gathered for public meeting organized watchdog group Hanford Challenge.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers who are worried about getting sick turned out in droves for a public meeting Wednesday night in Richland organized by a Seattle-area watchdog called Hanford Challenge.

About 45 people squeezed into tight rows in a small conference room.

Some of the nuclear site employees claim the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors aren’t doing enough to protect them from hazardous and smelly chemical vapors.

Since the early spring, there has been a spate of workers who’ve sought medical attention after working in or near the tank farms. That’s where the government stores 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

Pete Nicacio, a manager for union plumbers and steamfitters at the site, said he wants 24-hour, independent air testing at Hanford.

“I know there are things we can do for our guys out there, and it’s time to do it," he said. "And I’m tired of having people say there is nothing going on out there.”

Last week, federal Department of Energy officials told reporters that all their tests show that worker conditions are safe according to federal standards.

In other Hanford news, the U.S. Department of Energy and Washington state agreed to extend talks another 70 days over how best to clean up the radioactive waste tanks.

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.
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