Smokers Leave Work to Light Up - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Smokers Leave Work to Light Up

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RICHLAND, Wash.- Energy Northwest employees who smoke are forced to leave the site to feed their habit.

For health and safety, the company doesn't allow smoking anywhere on their property.

Workers at the Columbia Generating Station have to leave the site before they can light up.

That means driving three-to-four miles to small gravel parking lots on the side of the highway for a smoke.

Sometimes that can take a half-hour instead of the usual 15 minute break, but any time they go longer, they have to make that time up at the end of the day.

"Whether they're a salaried employee and they have to make it up by doing their work at some other time, or, whether they're an hourly wage employee and they have arrangements with their supervisor," said Brad Peck, a spokesperson for the company.

"The bottom line is it's on their time, and no it's not acceptable for that to take away from their work time."

The policy extends to everything the company leases.

The power plant is on land leased from the Department of Energy.