A task force to look at worker health concerns at the Hanford nuclear reservation would be formed under a bill that unanimously passed the Washington state Senate on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is intended to develop recommendations for diagnosing and treating Hanford worker disease that may be caused by exposure to chemical vapors in the Hanford tank farms.
Brown has worked with top management of the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Department of Energy at Hanford on possible action, she said.
“We know what some of the chemical constituents are in the tanks. What we do not know is how to treat those exposed workers,” she said. Chemical vapors are associated with waste held in underground tanks at Hanford.
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The task force, to be named by the governor, would include representatives of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the Department of Energy, pipefitters union Local 598, the director of the State Department of Labor and Industries and the secretary of the State Department of Health.
The task force would work with the Harborview Center of Excellence, which was established to help workers with chronic beryllium disease, to expand the center’s scope to workers exposed to chemical vapors, Brown said.
“It is my hope that we attract doctors and researchers from all over the world who have experience in chemical vapor exposure so that we can have treatment plans that are appropriate to address this specific exposure,” Brown said.
The task force would be required to provide a report to the Legislature each year starting in 2019.
The bill must still be passed by the Washington state House of Representatives.