OLYMPIA, Washington — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered the following statement on a U.S. District Court rejecting the federal government’s challenge of Washington’s law making it easier for Hanford workers to access workers’ compensation benefits:
“It was disappointing to see the federal government once again fighting against doing the right thing for the men and women of Hanford. The court appropriately rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to undermine our state protections for Hanford workers. Hanford workers do incredibly important work cleaning up the federal government’s nuclear program. If they get sick as a result, they deserve the ability to access the benefits they have earned.
“I thank my legal team for the hard work they put into this case, and Governor Inslee, the Department of Labor & Industries and Hanford Challenge for their assistance and support.”
Ferguson filed a lawsuit in September 2015 against the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), alleging that hazardous tank vapors pose a serious risk to workers at Hanford. Hanford Challenge, an advocacy group promoting worker health and safety, and UA Local 598, filed a similar motion in their own worker safety lawsuit.
In November 2016, a federal judge rejected the U.S. Department of Energy’s motion to dismiss Ferguson’s lawsuit over longstanding worker safety issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The ruling in November 2016 allowed the lawsuit to proceed.