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Improper safety measures at former nuclear plant in Washington state, causing terminal illness among site workers

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Three workers at the Hanford nuclear Plant used to produce plutonium from 1943 through the end of the Cold War, allegedly died from illnesses developed from working at the site

Workers at the site say they are being exposed to radioactive fumes and their employer won’t give the right safety equipment  

Doctors confirm workers at former nuclear site developing debilitating or terminal illnesses, allegedly from improper exposure, including 61 workers this year alone, exposed to toxic materials

Fed contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, tasked with cleaning up site claims everyone checked out for possible exposure cleared to return to work 

State AG, Bob Ferguson, suing the Fed Govt for their ‘unforgivable’ lack of action in protecting workers

 

Ronan Farrow with current and former workers from the Hanford Nuclear plant1.jpg

20 current and former workers in unison say they have had serious health issues after working at the site and they want better safety measures

A former nuclear site in Washington state is poisoning workers and threatening the health of those who live around it, according to a new nbc investigation, causing some experts to label the site ‘the most toxic place in America’ and ‘an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen’.
The Hanford nuclear plant located in a rural area along the Columbia River, in Washington state was commissioned by the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. 
It remained an active nuclear site until the end of the Cold War, when it was decommissioned and the Department of Energy subcontracted Washington River Protection Solutions to start the clean-up.
But workers told the nbc crew, the plant won’t be cleaned up for another 50, at least. adding that they have been exposed to the toxic fumes because the company has not given them the right safety equipment.

Hanford nuclear plant, former key producer for radioactive materials that powered the cold war. The former nuclear site in Washington state has been labeled ‘the most toxic place in America’

In contrast, seventy years ago, the Hanford Nuclear plant produced plutonium for America’s nuclear arsenal. Today, it’s run by the Department of Energy through its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions.
The contractor is managing a $110 billion cleanup of 56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste, stored in 177 underground tanks, a task that’s expected to last the next 50 years.

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A previously healthy, fit Seth Ellingsworth  a worker at the Hanford nuclear site says he became sick as soon as he inhaled bad-smelling fumes 

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Seth Ellingsworth says he started having severe respiratory issues just hours after smelling a strange odor at the site 

Workers tasked with cleaning process have pointed out that the tanks are leaking, and the vapors they emit contain toxic and radioactive chemicals known to cause cancer as well as brain and lung damage. Just this year, 61 workers , allegedly have been exposed, and some nuclear experts have called Hanford “the most toxic place in America” and “an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen.”
A fact acknowledged by the Department Of Energy, DOE. Documented in nearly 20 studies conducted over the past 24 years, there is a safety risk to workers at Hanford.
Two years ago, one of those reports found toxins in the air “far exceeding occupational limits” and a “causal link” between vapor exposure and lung and brain damage.
DOE has also said that the site “cannot effectively control” dangers and gives workers “no warning.” Still critics say the DOE still isn’t doing enough to act on its own findings, and continues to put workers at risk.
Neuropsychologist Brian Campbell says he has evaluated 29 people at Hanford with both respiratory and cognitive symptoms, including “some of the worst cases of dementia that I’ve seen in young people, which we do not anticipate.”

Their health issues include dementia, nerve damage, memory loss and respiratory issues.
The death of three workers has been attributed to contamination through fumes at the site.
Watchdog group Hanford Challenge says the deaths of Gary Sall, Deb Fish and Dan Golden have been linked to exposure at the site, but officials with Washington River Protection Solutions won’t admit to putting their workers in danger, despite several studies that show the contrary.
In fact, just this year, 61 workers have allegedly been exposed to toxic materials.
NBC spoke to DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Whitney, who said that all workers who have been evaluated for possible exposure have been cleared to return to work.
As for the workers who claimed that they have become seriously or terminally ill because of their work at the site, Whitney says they believe these illness were not caused by the job.
‘I wish we had a more complete understanding of those circumstances,’ said Whitney. ‘A lot of effort the last couple years has gone into strengthening our efforts to deal with the potential vapor exposure issue.’

Gary Small, Deb Fish and Dan Golden are former workers, all of whom have died as a result of exposure to toxic fumes while cleaning up the site 

Ronan Farrow with current and former workers from the Hanford Nuclear plant1.jpg

20 current and former workers in unison say they have had serious health issues after working at the site and they want better safety measures

 When NBC pushed Whitney on the case of Diana Gegg who says she now has dementia because of exposure on the job, complete with medical assessments indicating her possibly terminal illness is a direct result of her exposure at Hanford, Whitney refused to comment.

‘I’m not a medical professional and can’t provide a qualified medical opinion,’ he said.
The state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is taking action against the situation at Hanford, by suing the federal government for their ‘unforgivable’ lack of action in protecting workers.
‘They’ve known for decades. It’s been going on year after year, report after report,’ Ferguson said.
He added: ‘And to be candid, they have to live with themselves on that. I ask the question all the time, ‘How many more workers have to get sick at Hanford before they do something about it? How many?’ Please ask them. I really want to know.’
Following NBC’s story on Tuesday, the DOE which has invested $50 million this year in improving air monitoring at the site,  issued a statement saying their primary concern is worker’s safety.  Meanwhile, Washington River Protection Solutions, the government contractor charged with cleaning the Hanford site said it has also reached an agreement with its workers’ union to provide air tanks to all workers, something experts say could lessen the chance of exposure.

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