The State of Washington wins round one against Hanford in a court battle to keep workers safe at the site.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled against the U.S. Department of Energy, which argued last month that the state’s case against it should be thrown out. Attorneys for the feds said not enough people had gotten sick at Hanford for the state attorney general to be involved.
The judge found the state does have the right to sue on behalf of the workers because Hanford has injured a “sufficient segment of its population” and to say it’s just a few people here and there is bogus.
The Attorney General filed the lawsuit against the US Dept. of Energy and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) in September, 2015 along with the citizen watchdog group Hanford Challenge and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 598.
“This motion (brought by the U.S. Department of Energy) was just another example of the federal government ‘s culture of indifference to worker safety at Hanford. Rather than continuing to evade responsibility with procedural motions, the federal government and their contractor should focus on protecting Washington workers,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
"I'm thrilled that the judge is allowing the Attorney General's Office to protect the workers over the objections of the Department of Energy," said Hanford Challenge Executive Director Tom Carpenter. "I thought it was disgusting that the DOE argued that not enough people were being hurt to justify the AG's involvement. It's an important vindication of a state's ability to protect worker health and safety at the most contaminated nuclear facility in the nation."