Hanford Challenge says vapors lawsuit could be filed

A warning sign hangs on the fence surrounding the Hanford C Tank Farm.
A warning sign hangs on the fence surrounding the Hanford C Tank Farm.

UPDATE: Attorney General Bob Ferguson plans to make an announcement early Wednesday afternoon.

A lawsuit intended to protect Hanford workers from chemical vapors in the nuclear reservation’s tank farms could be filed soon.

Hanford Challenge and the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters are poised to file a lawsuit in federal court, said Tom Carpenter, Hanford Challenge executive director, in his group’s latest newsletter. They would be represented by Smith & Lowney of Seattle and Public Justice.

More than 50 Hanford workers reported possible exposure to chemical vapors since spring 2014, but reports of possible exposures have been reduced since workers have been required to wear supplied air respirators for most work.

The Department of Energy and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, were notified of intents to sue over chemical favors in November but to date no lawsuit has been filed.

Bob Ferguson, the Washington state attorney general, issued the first notice. He said the states wants to reach a legally enforceable agreement with DOE to obtain a court order that lays out plans to eliminate the risk to workers from breathing vapors from Hanford waste now held in underground tanks.

A day later, Hanford Challenge and the union said they were issuing a second notice.