Concerns About Hanford Worker Safety Grow

Concerns over the safety of workers cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southwestern Washington state — site of the largest nuclear waste dump in the Western Hemisphere — continue to escalate. Yesterday, the Department of Energy announced a formal investigation of the private contractor that monitors worker health, responding to charges that the Hanford Environmental Health Foundation, under pressure to increase speed and reduce costs, systematically altered medical records and suppressed reports of workers harmed by vapors from Hanford’s 177 underground waste tanks. Critics say the charges point up a decades-long pattern of mismanagement and fraud at the site and are pushing for a wider investigation. “The situation is too murky to trust the Department of Energy’s self-investigation, and the sooner some independent eyes are trained on Hanford worker safety, the better,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).