Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Hanford: Is Fast Cleanup Endangering Workers?

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Hanford: Is Fast Cleanup Endangering Workers?

Article excerpt

A new report released by the Government Accountability Project documents dozens of recent exposures to toxic chemical vapors requiring medical attention, and what the study authors call a failure of the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) and contractors to protect worker health and safety at the Hanford nuclear waste tank farm in Richland, Wash.

According to "Knowing Endangerment: Worker Exposure to Toxic Vapors at the Hanford Tank Farms," worker exposures to chemical vapors from Hanford's 177 high-level waste tanks have skyrocketed. The report claims workers exposed to the tank vapors have health effects including nosebleeds, persistent headaches, tearing eyes, burning skin and lungs, constant productive coughs, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and increased heart rates. Despite these conditions, according to the report, DOE cleanup contractor CH2M-Hill Hanford fails to require basic respirators in the tank farms, denies worker requests to use supplied air, and is planning to reduce the level of personal protective equipment used by tank farm workers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CH2M disputes these claims. Susan Eberlein, Ph.D., vice president of Safety, Health and Quality Assurance for CH2M, admitted that the report makes some valid claims related to employee observations of smelling vapors or experiencing symptoms, but says some parts of the report contain "inaccuracies and heresay."

She said that while CH2M and DOE take employee reports of vapors and symptoms very seriously and investigate them thoroughly, they've found that many of the exposures are related to ammonia fumes escaping from the tanks at exposure levels that are below threshold limit values (TLVs) established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.