Workers Exposed & Harmed By Vapors According To New Hanford Repo - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Workers Exposed & Harmed By Vapors According To New Hanford Report

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A third party report shows Hanford workers were in fact exposed to chemical vapors resulting in negative effects to their health. A third party report shows Hanford workers were in fact exposed to chemical vapors resulting in negative effects to their health.
HANFORD, WA – A third party report shows Hanford workers were in fact exposed to chemical vapors resulting in negative effects to their health.

The reports seemed to come in daily this past spring of workers saying they were exposed to chemical vapors at Hanford's tank farms. It prompted an extensive third party study conducted by Savannah River National Laboratory, which is another agency that works under the Department of Energy. The complete results were released Thursday after their multi-million dollar study.

After reading the report NBC Right Now had questions Thursday but Washington River Protection Solutions refused to answer any of them. Instead they offered us a prerecorded audio statement from their president who they said was the only person who would be able to speak with us on the topic, but was trtravelinghursday. What we were left with was a report that outlined the protocols followed at Hanford that did not fully protect workers and did in fact harm their health.

"By every indication that we have our workers are not exposed to any vapors," said Bob Wilkinson from WRPS back in July while we were on a media tour of the Hanford tank farms.

"When we say exposure we're talking exceedance of occupational exposure limits," continued Tom Fletcher from DOE Office of River Protection. We asked at that time if they were ruling out exposure. Fletcher explained  "We have no data from an exposure perspective."

We now have that data. The new 153-page study shows there were in fact unhealthy exposures. In a statement released Thursday by the DOE they explain with over 50 total recommendations included in the study they will continue "to reduce vapor exposures in the tank farms". This would potentially include upgrades to safety equipment and further local research on how to prevent brief chemical leaks.

"We take the study and it's conclusions very seriously. We don't plan to walk away from this vapor concern but plant to address it," said Dave Olson, the president and CEO of WRPS in the prerecorded audio statement.

WRPS previously explained their instruments used to measure exposure levels on the tank farms never showed levels above their safety limit that would affect workers health. Doctor Bill Wilmarth from SRNL who led the new study was quoted as saying that there is a link between the exposures that have occurred and the health issues workers suffered.  

"In all aspects of the protection of our workers, the safety and their well being...I see this as a next step in that evolution of this chemical vapor safety management," continued Olson in his statement.

In another attempt to get answers Thursday NBC Right Now reached out to Savannah River National Laboratory to ask them questions about their report. We were told Doctor Wilmarth was the only person who could speak on this and he was also traveling. The spokesperson we did reach by phone told us one reason they chose to not speak Thursday was an attempt to let the study speak for itself. 
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