Hanford Workers "Not Exposed To Any Vapors" - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford Workers "Not Exposed To Any Vapors"

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After 38 Hanford workers reported exposure to chemical vapors, their employers are now saying there was no actual “exposure”. After 38 Hanford workers reported exposure to chemical vapors, their employers are now saying there was no actual “exposure”.
 HANFORD, WA – After 38 Hanford workers reported exposure to chemical vapors, their employers are now saying there was no actual “exposure”.

The spokespeople under the Department of Energy are careful about the way they use the word exposure.

"By every indication that we have, our workers are not exposed to any vapors," said Bob Wilkinson from Washington River Protection Solutions.

When asked whether exposure has been ruled out, Tom Fletcher from the DOE’s Office of River Protection explained, "When we say exposure we're talking exceedance of occupational exposure limits. We have no data from an exposure perspective. Bob is correct in saying that. I just want to clarify that we're not saying no symptoms because sometimes they link those two together."

Instruments are used around each tank farm to measure possible exposure. Each worker has a tag on their person monitoring their exposure levels. It is even one person's job on each site to walk around and actively test the tank farm whenever a crew is working. With readings not showing dangerous exposure levels the mystery still remains at to what is hurting these workers?

"There may be something out there that we're not aware of. That's part of the reason why we're asking this National Lab and the experts to come and look at it, but every benchmark that we've done we have the best equipment able to detect that kind of stuff," said Wilkinson.

Savannah River National Laboratory is currently investigating the conditions at Hanford. Their work wont be available till the fall, but the hope is that whatever the "something out there" is will be found.  While they are not saying the word exposure, they are not saying their workers are lying.

"I personally, Bob Wilkinson, do not believe any of our folks have done any false reporting or psychosomatic type of reporting. I believe the symptoms they are reporting are real."

There are vapors on the tank farms that are the basic irritants like ammonia that can cause exposure symptoms. The on-site medical center doctors told NBC Right Now that some of those 38 reports from this year were in fact just scratchy throats. Something out there is causing these symptoms and the Department of Energy hopes their current investigation will determine what that is. 
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