Report: Over 57% of Hanford workers exposed to hazards

A sign is seen as you enter the world's largest environmental cleanup project at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation June 30, 2005 near Richland, Washington. 

A new state report finds that more than 57% of Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers reported exposure to hazardous material on the former nuclear weapons production site in southcentral Washington state.

The Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Board recently released its final report and recommendations on the unmet health care needs of Hanford workers.

The report’s central recommendation calls for creation of a new, independent Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Center. It would provide a centralized clearinghouse for dissemination of accepted scientific literature. Important functions would also include evaluation and communication of newly available studies about Hanford-specific hazards.

For incurable diseases such as chronic beryllium disease, information sharing could be key to finding cures. Additionally, the center would promote research to increase the body of knowledge for the Hanford workforce.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and thousands of workers are now tasked with cleaning up the nation’s largest volume of radioactive wastes.

"The working families that make up the Hanford community represent a very unique population, with occupational risks not easily quantified or identified," said Nickolas A. Bumpaous, Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Board co-chair. "Hundreds if not thousands of studies have been conducted over the years, each one focused in different areas and producing different recommendations.

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