Gov. Jay Inslee asks the U.S. Supreme Court to protect Hanford workers

OLYMPIA, WA - Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement Wednesday regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s petition for review in the U.S. Supreme Court against state law protecting Hanford workers.

“The decision by the Department of Justice to pursue this case in the U.S. Supreme Court is a mistake that threatens to compound the suffering of Hanford workers. At every step of the legal process, federal courts have rejected the federal government’s attempts to invalidate our state law establishing a presumption of causation for workers made sick by exposure to the Hanford site. I implore Attorney General Merrick Garland to consider the greater interests of justice and withdraw the department’s petition. 

"We must not lose sight of why this legislation is needed in the first place. For years, the federal government has failed in its obligation to care for these workers and their families. As the recent final report of the Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Board showed, nearly six in 10 workers at the site who were surveyed reported exposure to radioactive or toxic materials at Hanford, the most contaminated environmental cleanup site in the country. The federal government’s position in this case would tie the state’s hands and restore a system that was nearly impossible to navigate and left Hanford workers struggling to get assistance for illnesses that have clearly been caused by exposures at the site. 

"I applaud Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s commitment to defending this state law, as he has ably done twice before. There is still time to choose a different path, and I stand with the labor community and all those encouraging the Department of Justice to take advantage of it. No legal principle is so important that it can justify a course of action that will undermine the health and safety of these workers and their families.”