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Hanford Panel Meets In Spokane Committee Advises Agencies On Superfund Health Risks

A new citizen’s committee advising federal health agencies on further Hanford studies is coming to Spokane.

The Hanford Health Effects Subcommittee will meet Thursday and Friday at the Ridpath Hotel from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a public comment session from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The committee, formed late last year, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Superfund-related health risks.

Lynne Stembridge, director of the Hanford Education Action League of Spokane, heads the committee.

Hanford, severely polluted by decades of bomb-making, has been on the Superfund cleanup list since 1988.

The registry’s plan for more Hanford studies has provoked controversy among Hanford downwinders. Many feel they’ve been studied enough.

Taxpayers have spent $26 million to estimate Hanford radiation doses to people in Eastern Washington, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle is conducting a study of thyroid disease among downwinders that will cost nearly $9 million by the end of 1995.

In 1993, attorneys filed two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Spokane to halt further registry studies until direct care to sick downwinders is provided. The cases were dismissed.

The disease registry is aware it got off to a bad start with downwinders in 1993, said spokesman Mike Greenwell.

“That’s why we formed this committee. We don’t want to design inappropriate studies. We want to see what they want,” Greenwell said.

Agency officials also will meet with Hanford-area tribal representatives on March 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. to discuss how they can participate, he said.