Wednesday, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he plans to sue the Department of Energy and Washington River Protection Services over what has been called an ongoing issue with harmful tank vapors at Hanford, which have affected workers.

Saying the issue has been ongoing for over 20 years, Ferguson said the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) allows persons, including the AG, to bring actions against a party who's actions "may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public's health or environment."

Oct. 30, an independent panel released the Hanford Tank Vapor Assessment Report , which said the vapors being emitted from many of the hazardous waste storage facilities at the Hanford Tank Farm are causing an unsafe work environment.

This is the latest report that has been issued since 1987, when Hanford workers first began experiencing physical ailments, which the reports say is related to the vapors.  According to Ferguson's statement Wednesday:

"Dating back to at least 1987, workers exposed to vapors have experienced nosebleeds, headaches, watery eyes, burning skin, contact dermatitis, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, coughing, sore throats, expectorating, dizziness and nausea. Several of these workers have long-term disabilities, including permanent loss of lung capacity.

Despite the 20 years of study and multiple reports, there is no lasting solution and workers continue to get sick."

Ferguson said the suit will force Washington River Protection Services and the Department of Energy to find ways to legally and effectively find solutions to better protect the workers.

 After the latest round of Hanford workers experiencing physical reactions to vapors at the tank farms in June of this year, Gov. Inslee mandated an independent study to examine the correlation between harmful vapors being "burped" from the tanks to these health conditions.  The report was conducted through officials from the Savannah River National Laboratory.


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