- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to help former nuclear site workers with certain illnesses receive the needed care and compensation.

KING-TV reports (https://kng5.tv/2kXptMY ) that the bill introduced by Richland Republican Rep. Larry Haler would grant a presumption of occupational illness for certain conditions in people who worked at Hanford, where the federal government produced plutonium for nuclear weapons 45 years. Production stopped in 1989.

The presumptions are similar to those Washington granted to firefighters beginning in 1987. The illnesses covered by the Hanford bill include respiratory disease, heart problems experienced after an exposure to toxic chemicals, certain neurological diseases and certain cancers.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which owns Hanford, did not have a representative to testify at a Thursday hearing on the topic.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and the site near Richland in southeastern Washington is now engaged in a massive cleanup of the resulting radioactive wastes.

The wastes are stored in 177 massive underground tanks, and it is vapors escaping from some of those tanks that are thought to be making workers sick. The vapors are invisible and are not radioactive. Their exact content is not known because the exact contents of the tanks, some dating back to World War II, are not known.


Information from: KING-TV, https://www.king5.com/

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