Asbestos Exposure at the Hanford Site in WA
The cancer-causing mineral asbestos has been found at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a nuclear power plant in Washington state. Hanford Site asbestos has caused many workers, including cleanup staff, to develop asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma from working at the Hanford Site, contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little. We have helped many asbestos families obtain financial compensation and justice.
Also known as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Site W, the Hanford Site is a decommissioned nuclear production complex run by the United States federal government in Benton County in Washington state. It was established in 1943 to create nuclear weapons for World War II. Since 1997, the U.S. Department of Energy has controlled the Hanford Site. In 1989, a formal cleanup began under the Tri-Party Agreement, negotiated by the Department of Energy, the state of Washington, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The cleanup remains unfinished.
Like many other World War II-era power plants, the Hanford Site used a wide range of asbestos-containing materials, including boiler insulation. As a result, many cleanup staff and former Hanford Site workers inhaled and ingested asbestos fibers, putting them at increased risk of asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
More recently, five nuclear reactors were constructed at the Hanford Reservation to generate electricity as part of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) in the 1970s and 80s. The WPPSS units were never completed due to financial difficulties. However, sprayed fireproofing and other materials used in the construction of the WPPSS units contained asbestos, putting workers who helped construct the units at risk.
Bergman Oslund Udo Little has over 25 years of experience fighting for asbestos exposure victims and their families throughout the Pacific Northwest. We have obtained millions in settlements for our clients, including a $1.3 million settlement for a 61-year-old mesothelioma victim exposed to asbestos while working as a senior plant engineer at the Hanford Site.
Asbestos Found at the Hanford Site Nuclear Reservation
The Hanford Site is no longer using asbestos. However, asbestos is still present in many older facilities. The material was mostly used for the following:
- Pipe insulation on steam lines
- Boiler linings
- Floor tiles
- Asbestos cement board
- Roofing materials
In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also discovered asbestos in the following locations:
- The soil, tank, and superstructure of the 1902-D Water Tower
- Waste material from the 2723-W building
- The demolished 284-W building
Risks of Mesothelioma for Nuclear Reservation Workers
People exposed to Hanford Site asbestos have a higher chance of developing asbestos-related conditions, such as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that develops in the mesothelium, the tissue layer surrounding most of your abdominal organs.
When people inhale or ingest asbestos fibers, the fibers become stuck in the mesothelium, causing inflammation and scarring. Eventually, cancerous tumors grow within the scar tissue. Nuclear reservation workers, especially electricians, welders, and maintenance workers, had the highest risk of asbestos exposure. These workers could have also exposed their loved ones to asbestos by coming home with fibers attached to their clothes, skin, and hair.
Workers typically do not know they have mesothelioma until many decades later. This is because the mesothelioma latency period is 15 to 20 years. Mesothelioma can sometimes develop up to 50 years after initial asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma symptoms depend on the location. There are three main types of mesothelioma:
- Pleural mesothelioma starts in the pleura, the thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and the interior wall of the chest cavity. Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, painful coughing, breathing difficulties, and odd lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma begins in the peritoneum, the membrane lining the abdominal cavity. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal swelling.
- Pericardial mesothelioma starts in the pericardium, the fibrous sac surrounding your heart, and the major blood vessel roots. It can cause breathing problems and chest pain.
- Testicular mesothelioma begins in the lining of the testes. Symptoms include painful swelling of the testes and a buildup of fluid.
Medical practitioners may prescribe surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, gene therapy, TTFields, and other treatments for mesothelioma. The treatment plan depends on your mesothelioma stage, overall health, and personal preferences.
Legal Options for Hanford Site Workers Exposed to Asbestos
Mesothelioma treatments for victims of Hanford site asbestos can be expensive, especially if you need multiple treatment types. Emerging treatments, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy, are especially costly.
You can seek compensation and justice for your losses. Bergman Oslund Udo Little’s legal team can determine your options for financial compensation and justice. You may be able to pursue non-economic and economic compensation. Non-economic compensation covers hard-to-quantify losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, while economic compensation covers verifiable losses, such as medical fees and lost wages.
Depending on the facts of your case, we can help you file:
- A personal injury mesothelioma lawsuit: If you developed mesothelioma while working at the Hanford Site, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties, such as former employers and asbestos manufacturers.
- A wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit: If a family member died from mesothelioma caused by exposure at the Hanford Site, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Successful wrongful death lawsuits compensate for the deceased’s burial and funeral costs, lost wages, and loss of consortium.
- A mesothelioma trust fund claim: Bankrupt asbestos companies have established trust funds to compensate exposure victims. You may have the chance to file a claim with an asbestos trust fund if you or a loved one was diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease caused by exposure to a bankrupt company’s products.
- A Washington workers’ compensation claim: Workers who are injured from exposure to asbestos at the Hanford Site may also be eligible for benefits from Washington’s workers’ compensation program, administered by the Department of Labor and Industries or “L&I.” The spouse of a worker who died from a work-related injury may also be eligible for a monthly payment or pension.
Bergman Oslund Udo Little has been fighting to protect the interests of families facing the challenges of mesothelioma since 1995. We emphasize a compassionate, highly professional, client-first, team-oriented approach to winning cases for their clients.
Contact a Bergman Oslund Udo Little asbestos attorney for a free mesothelioma case review. We have offices in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.