May 31, 2016

Wyden Commends Energy Department Office of Inspector General Review of Hanford Vapor Exposures

Washington, D.C. –  U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., commended the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General for beginning a review today of chemical vapor exposures to workers at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state.

“This is a good step toward providing the workers at Hanford with some assurance that someone is looking out for their safety,” Wyden said. “I look forward to a thorough review by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Energy’s response to working conditions at the high-level radioactive waste tanks at Hanford.”

Wyden visited the Hanford site earlier this month and met with workers after some Hanford employees reported smelling vapors from the tank farm where radioactive waste is stored. More than 40 workers have sought medical attention following possible exposure to the chemical vapors. Wyden also raised his concerns about the failure of the Department to address the workers’ complaints earlier this month during the confirmation hearing of Susan Beard, the nominee to be the next Inspector General for the Department.

Wyden has repeatedly called on the Department of Energy to improve oversight and safety practices at Hanford. Starting with a law he wrote more than 20 years ago while in the U.S. House of Representatives that required the DOE to remediate risks of flammable gas leaks from high-level radioactive waste storage tanks, he continues to push the DOE for solutions.