Loading... Please wait...

SafetyBlog

Posted

Washington state has announced plans to sue the federal government for improperly cleaning nuclear waste at one of its facilities.

According to a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday, dozens of state workers were exposed to toxic vapors during the period of January 2014 and April 2015 while working at the now-closed Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Washington state lawmakers allege that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has known about the toxic vapors for decades, dating all the way back to the 1980s, yet it has failed to take action by correcting the problem.

Located on the Columbia River in Washington, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was used by the federal government to produce nuclear weapons-grade plutonium from the 1943 to 1987, at which time it was closed. Of course, closing down a nuclear plant isn't as easy as knocking down the walls and hauling off the debris to a landfill. The radioactive waste and other toxic material must be properly dispersed to prevent residents and workers from succumbing to illness. While the Hanford Nuclear Reservation remains intact today, it's no longer used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Instead, workers are there simply to manage and secure the facility.

Washington State lawmakers say neither the DOE nor its sub-contractors cleaned up the toxic fumes and materials left behind at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. State attorney general Bob Ferguson even claims that there are tank farms from which the vapors continue to be released, exposing the site's workers to these harmful toxins.

"Neither the Department of Energy nor its contractors have followed through to finally fix the problem and keep our workers safe," said Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson. "If you visited Hanford today, you'd find some workers at the tank farms still exposed to vapors seeping out of these tanks."

So, just how problematic is the issue at Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation? In addition to reports of some 50 workers being exposed to the toxic vapors, Ferguson claims that hundreds of workers at the site have experienced symptoms ranging from nosebleeds and headaches to brain damage, respiratory failure and even fatalities.

There are an estimated 56 million gallons of toxic and radioactive waste stored at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The tanks in which the material is stored contain a single shell, and thus are viewed as offering minimal protection for workers. It's unclear whether or not the federal government will take action to clean up the waste.

View Comments


OSHA Publishes Final Rule on Working in Confined Spaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published its final rule on working in confined spaces. The new rule covers many concerns that were previously left unaddressed, such as crawlspaces and attics (among other things).You might be wondering why OSHA felt the need to update its rule on confined spaces. After all, how much [...]

Read More »


Report: Traffic Smog May Contribute to Heart Disease

Taking the lives of more than 600,000 people in the U.S. each year, heart disease remains the nation's leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC). While we know some risk factors of heart disease include obesity, diabetes and heart disease, a new report suggests that automobile air pollution may [...]

Read More »


BLR Publishes List of 10 Most Cited OSHA Standards for 2014

Ever wonder what the most common Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations are? Well, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently published this information for the 2014 year in the form of an infographic.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed in 1970 as a branch of the United States Department of Labor [...]

Read More »


Study Links Long Work Hours to Increased Risk of Stroke

How many hours do you clock in at work in a typical week? According to a recent Gallup survey, the average American workweek has increased to roughly 49 hours. While those extra hours may provide some additional overtime pay, it could be taking a toll on your health, potentially even increasing your risk of stroke.Researchers [...]

Read More »


Hiking and Camping. Do You Really Need a Compass?

When planning to go hiking and/or camping do you really need a map and compass if you have a GPS? In today's world of high tech devices there are purpose built GPS devices as well as many of our everyday devices such as our phones have built in GPS.We have become highly dependent on them [...]

Read More »


The Hidden Dangers Posed by Backpacks

As summer begins to wrap up, millions of children throughout the country will be heading back to school to further their education. But there's a hidden danger associated with this time of year that often goes unnoticed: backpacks. The thought of sustaining an injury simply by wearing a backpack may sound rare, but it happens [...]

Read More »


OSHA Seeks Changes in Whistleblower Complaint Process

In the wake of an increase of whisteblower complaints, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its policies and procedures for such disputes.Rather than using its internal program for handling whistleblower complaints, OSHA says it will use the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, which is part of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [...]

Read More »


Safety Tips for Construction Workers

Construction is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. As cities throughout the country create new development projects, there's a greater need for workers. Subsequently, however, it also increases the number of construction workers who are injured on the job.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 828 construction workers were killed [...]

Read More »


Lightning and Thunderstorm Safety Tips

It's estimated that lighting strikes Earth nearly 100 times per second! This powerful force of mother nature is often paired with severe rain, hail and gale-force winds, creating a dangerous scenario for people caught in the path of a storm. But as long as you follow some basic safety precautions, you can wait out severe [...]

Read More »