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Independent vapor study to be done at Hanford

Hanford siteWASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy announced yesterday that it has asked for a workplace safety and health evaluation due to the problem of chemical vapor exposures at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Wash. The DOE has asked that the evaluation be performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC is independent of the DOE, and the announcement of the evaluation pleased senators from both Washington and Oregon. They had recently called for an independent study following repeated reports of chemical vapor exposure from workers at tank farms at Hanford.

“Bringing in an independent team of experts to make sure workers are being protected is a strong step in the right direction,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said. “I will be closely following this process to ensure this evaluation provides the guidance necessary to keep workers safe.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was also happy with the decision.

“I am pleased to see the Department of Energy will be utilizing the expertise of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and health to address tank vapors at Hanford,” she said. “Worker safety is our number one priority.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also praised the separate investigation.

“Meeting last month with tank farm workers at the site who were exposed to toxic chemicals made it clearer than ever to me that this independent review is needed to get to the bottom of this decades-long health threat,” he said.

The NIOSH evaluation is expected to include all workers and organizations that work within or near the tank farms at Hanford.

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