25 Hanford Workers Evaluated for Vapor Exposure, WRPS Responds - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

25 Hanford Workers Evaluated for Vapor Exposure, WRPS Responds

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Tuesday, another Hanford tank farm worker received a medical evaluation following concerns of exposure to chemical vapors Tuesday, another Hanford tank farm worker received a medical evaluation following concerns of exposure to chemical vapors

RICHLAND, WA - A Hanford contractor says it's still trying to find the source of the vapors that have sickened 25 workers in the past couple of weeks around waste storage tanks on the nuclear reservation.

Washington River Protection Solutions says the chemical exposure was low, but the contractor is still concerned about the number of incidents.

 

A senior project manager has been asked to take over the investigation.

 

Tuesday, another Hanford tank farm worker received a medical evaluation following concerns of exposure to chemical vapors. That brings the total number of workers who've been evaluated to 25.

We decided to take a closer look into these cases.

Washington River Protection Solutions refused NBC Right Now requests to go on camera to speak about their employees exposed to the chemical vapors.

They would only respond by email declining an interview.

Our reporter spent several days requesting more information about the workers exposed to the vapors and this is what we found out.

Twenty-five workers were sent for medical evaluation after feeling symptoms of chemical vapor exposure or concerns for their health and then released to return to work.

We wanted to know why Washington River Protection Solutions continues to send their workers back to the tank farm when the number exposed to vapors keeps rising.

How is WRPS reducing the worker risk?

A WRPS spokesperson said in an email that they are, "Temporarily restricting access to the tank farms where the workers have encountered chemical vapors."

Workers evaluated for exposure to vapors, worked in both the tank farms and locations near the tank farms.

We wanted to know more about the monitors available for workers at the tank farms.

WRPS told us they have area monitors and ones for the workers clothes.

A spokesman said in an email, "Monitors do not prevent exposure to chemical vapors; they detect the vapors and give our technicians an indication of the type of chemicals after the fact."

And what about respiratory gear, if the threat for chemical vapor exposure is present?

A WRPS response stated that the gear is available, but not mandatory. And the gear can restrict vision and cause other safety problems.

We asked if any of the workers have not returned to work and received medical care beyond their evaluation and release to return to work.

WRPS said, "None of the employees have "received medical care"-- they were seen by a doctor and release to return to work."

Other sources told us last week, several workers sought care from their personal doctors for harsh symptoms.

WRPS said in an email, the six workers that received a medical evaluation Monday for exposure to chemical vapors did not want an evaluation, but WRPS insisted they get it.

 

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