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Hanford nuclear contractor proposes changing workers’ shifts to cut vapor exposure via The Seattle Times

More than 50 Hanford workers in recent months have sought medical examinations for possible exposure to chemical vapors. Changing shifts to nights and weekends for some workers would leave fewer employees exposed, the contractor says.

SPOKANE — The contractor that operates radioactive-waste storage tanks on the Hanford nuclear reservation has proposed that employees who move tank-farm waste perform their shifts on nights and weekends to reduce others’ exposure to chemical vapors.

Dozens of employees have said they were sickened from vapors associated with the tanks.
「。。。「Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, work that generated a massive inventory of nuclear waste that is stored in 177 underground tanks. The site is now dedicated to cleaning up the waste, a process expected to last decades and cost billions of dollars. WRPS is a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy, which owns the Hanford site near Richland.

The union coalition had also asked management to supply respirators for all work performed within the Hanford zones that contain steel-lined waste tanks. Some of the tanks are protected by single steel walls; newer ones have double walls.

Workers must already wear respirators while near the single-wall tanks known to emit vapors. Lindholm said in his letter that there is no compelling reason to require their use for employees working around the double-walled tanks because there is no evidence vapors are released from them.

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  1. norma field says

    What’s unclear is how this remediates the health of the tank-farm workers.

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