Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Senator Ron Wyden visit to spe - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Senator Ron Wyden visit to speak on Hanford issues

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"You still have more than 40 people who have reported concerns over the last week. Those are not faceless numbers. This is really a wake up call that there is some important health and scientific follow up that needs to be done," Senator Wyden concluded. "You still have more than 40 people who have reported concerns over the last week. Those are not faceless numbers. This is really a wake up call that there is some important health and scientific follow up that needs to be done," Senator Wyden concluded.

RICHLAND, WA- It seems like each day over the past few weeks there have been more and more Hanford tank farm workers going to the doctor for evaluations after smelling odors at the site. 

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden made a trip into town to speak with the Department of Energy, tank farm workers and the public. Ferguson says his legal team is looking into every viable legal option he has on the table to keep Hanford workers safe. 

You may be familiar with Ferguson's take on labor practices within the site, just last year he sued the federal government over decade long worker health issues. Thursday was no different, he asked the audience, "How many sick reports is it going to take?"

"These are people right, with families? I don't like to put it in stark terms but I feel like that is what I need to do. How many Washingtonians need to get sick, how many Washingtonians, workers, need to get exposed to vapors for the federal government to solve this problem? Right? How many? That is my question. How many is it? Because there is 44 or so in the last few days and there's many hundreds before that. That is the question they need to answer. Frankly, they need to answer it now, if they need to get workers on supply air, then that's what they need to do immediately. There are steps they can take, their own reports lay out steps they can take. So, I suggest they take a look at those and if I need to litigate this all the way to trial, my team knows I'm prepared to do that. I'm a reasonable man and willing to do it another way, but if it comes to that, that is the route we are going," explained Attorney General Ferguson. 

"Deadlines always seemed to be missed. Instead of people saying you know we really got to move now, there is sort of an explanation. In other words, the goal posts always seem to get moved on this deadline and accountability," said Senator Wyden.

Ferguson says he has brought the issue to those at the state level and is reaching out to the president. The lawsuit filed last year highlights a few main issues. One, meeting cleanup deadlines, two, being transparent and three, keeping workers safe. That lawsuit trial is set for May 2017, although Ferguson is looking into any option to speed up the process.

"The bottom line is still un-escapable, $19 billion dollars have been spent and not one single gallon, not one, of high level radioactive waste has been treated. We just can't make a case for business as usual and the status quo with those kinds of results," said Senator Wyden.

Senator Wyden toured the AY-101, AY-102, AP and single shell tank sites. He says his main concerns are for safety of those who work on the site and research that has not been completed about what is at the bottom of these tanks. "I want to hear from the workers but obviously the Department of Energy feels strongly about their existing procedures. I will let them speak for themselves," explained Senator Wyden.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson declared it is too premature to state his next step of action, but we should hear something soon. Senator Wyden is formulating a long term recommendation for the DOE team, but wants to complete his due diligence by speaking with workers as well. Both Senator Wyden and Attorney General Ferguson met behind closed doors with Hanford tank workers on Thursday afternoon.

"You still have more than 40 people who have reported concerns over the last week. Those are not faceless numbers. This is really a wake up call that there is some important health and scientific follow up that needs to be done," Senator Wyden concluded.

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