Hanford Tank Farm workers and families testify - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford Tank Farm workers and families testify

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OLYMPIA, WA - Two former Hanford tank farm workers and their wives testified this afternoon in a Senate committee hearing for House Bill 1723, which would create the presumption of occupational disease for workers at the Hanford site. Reporter Rex Carlin was in Olympia to attend the hearing.

It was an emotional scene when the two workers and their wives stepped forward to tell their stories in front of the Senate committee on commerce, labor, and sports in Olympia.

Abe Garza and Lonnie Rouse - both former tank farm workers - introduced themselves along with the diseases they live with, but both let their wives do most of their talking for them because the effects of their exposure had taken away many cognitive functions.

Rouse's wife Melinda pleaded for the committee to help her family.

"I need you to help us right now," she said. "Somebody's gotta have the integrity to stop the self-governing Department of Energy."

''My husband is a veteran. He served the army, he served his country," said Bertolla Bugarin. "He served again when he chose to take this job to clean up for the betterment of Washington, for the betterment of the United States and the world.''

State Representative Larry Haler was also there today. He co-signed the bill, which passed in the House by a count of 69 to 29.

The next step for House Bill 1723 is to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. If it passes, it will be sent to Governor Inslee's desk.