A draft report obtained by the KING 5 Investigators paints a damning picture of worker safety protocols at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington, debunking claims made by the government and a private contractor that workers were not being exposed to toxic chemicals on the job.
Written by top experts in the fields of toxicology and worker safety, the 147-page assessment condemns the system put in place to protect workers from dangerous releases of chemical vapors that occur around Hanford’s tank farms, where 56 million gallons of the deadliest substances on earth are stored in underground tanks.
The report was prepared after a series of incidents starting last March sent dozens of Hanford workers to medical facilities, with some suffering from acute respiratory and other health problems. Costing at least $2 million, the report was paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy, which owns Hanford, and the private contractor in charge of the tank farms — Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS).
The “current site programs…and processes cannot effectively control, mitigate, respond to, and communicate about (tank vapor emissions),” the experts conclude in the report. “The ongoing emission of (known toxic) tank vapors…is inconsistent with the provision of a safe and healthful workplace free of recognized hazards.”
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