According to a KING5 report posted yesterday, at least 11 people have been poisoned in the past week after breathing in toxic fumes while working near underground tanks holding hazardous nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Site. The exact source or sources of the vapors are still unknown.
The first two workers (employees for Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) which manages 177 underground tanks at the site) became ill last Wednesday after inhaling fumes that “tasted like copper”. Among the symptoms they reported suffering: headache, chest pain, difficulty breathing, nose bleeds, sore throats, and coughing up blood. Four more employees were sickened yesterday morning, after which an evacuation order was given to the entire tank farm facility. Two WRPS industrial hygiene inspectors fell ill shortly after followed by three more employees who breathed in fumes later that day.
Reported statements from the employees:
“The place is falling apart and they (WRPS) aren’t doing anything to fix it,”
“I feel fine now but when you get chemical exposure, you have respiratory issues.”
“It’s BS, We’ve expressed our opinion about it. We’ve said you haven’t taken the time to put in monitors and they say ‘It’s in the works’. Yet they keep sending us out to work. They’re not putting safety first.”
“They have some serious problems out there that they need to figure out,”
While this latest incident may not have been a surprise following recent revelations about “construction flaws” in the waste tanks at the site, it could have been avoided had the government and corporations that profited from nuclear energy and the nuclear arms industry bothered to invest a little more in the containment of their toxic byproducts. It also gives further credence to the suspicion that a cluster of rare birth defects in the surrounding areas are a direct result of environmental contamination from Hanford.