The US Department of Energy has been fined $115,000 for mishandling of asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington. The fine stems from demolition work conducted by a contractor in 2009 and 2010, in which removal and management of asbestos was improperly carried out. The violations were not discovered until 2012.
Hanford: A History of Asbestos Violations
This is not the first time the Hanford site has been in the news for violating asbestos regulations. A 1988 article in the Spokesman Review cites violations dating back to at least 1984. An investigation carried out by the General Accounting Office found “a general pattern of neglect when it came to worker health and safety” at the Hanford site.
The report concluded that workers were not properly trained in the handling of asbestos and that both the Department of Energy and its contractors failed to make sure asbestos regulations were followed. The GAO report concluded that stronger oversight of asbestos jobs was required.
Despite this history of oversight, asbestos handling problems have persisted at Hanford. The Government Accountability Project found that in the year 2004 alone, Hanford workers filed 48 worker compensation claims related to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos and Workplace Safety
Workplace asbestos regulations must be carefully followed, in order to ensure the safety of workers and their families. Tiny asbestos fibers can easily become airborne, where they can be inhaled and trapped in the lungs, later leading to cancer and other diseases. The families of exposed workers are also at risk, due to fibers brought home on their loved one’s clothing.
Children of asbestos workers have been known to develop malignant mesothelioma , decades after a parent’s initial exposure. While at one time workplaces offered little or no protections from these risks, today federal regulations require that workers be provided adequate safety equipment when handling asbestos.
Asbestos Victims: Help is Available
If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma due to exposure at Hanford or any other job site, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced, reputable asbestos litigation law firm, to discuss your options.
The only law firm in the Pacific Northwest devoted exclusively to mesothelioma cases, Bergman Draper Oslund has compiled an extensive database of job sites like Hanford where asbestos exposures have taken place.