Senators call for implementation of new worker safety recommenda - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Senators call for implementation of new worker safety recommendations

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), urged the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to take immediate action to protect workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state by implementing new safety recommendations.

The recommendations were released this week after a months-long review to address chemical vapor exposures at the Hanford tank farms by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a federal agency that is independent from DOE. NIOSH proposed recommendations within all four areas it assessed, including exposure assessment, exposure control, safety and health management, and medical. The NIOSH review included all workers and organizations that work within, or near, the Hanford tank farms.

“The NIOSH report confirms the Department of Energy is falling woefully short at protecting workers at Hanford from dangerous chemical vapors, which have been a serious problem for decades,” Wyden said. “NIOSH calls on DOE to stop relying on stop-gap measures and to actually take workers’ chemical safety concerns seriously. The ball is now in DOE’s court to implement these recommendations and I am going to be working with my colleagues from Washington state, Sens. Murray and Cantwell, to make sure DOE finally fixes these problems and doesn’t put this report on the shelf with all of the others that have taken DOE to task for not protecting workers at Hanford.”

In the letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the Senators wrote: “With the Review in hand it is now critical that DOE take swift and definitive actions to implement the recommendations. In addressing the recommendations, we request that DOE develop an implementation plan which includes a clear schedule and the funding necessary to carry them out successfully. DOE should also work to institutionalize the improvements in workforce safety that result from the NIOSH Review to ensure that program changes continue from contractor to contractor… We owe the men and women who work in the tank farms the highest safety standards to protect them from these hazards.”