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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hanford vapor lawsuit may be delayed again

By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

The state of Washington and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed over Hanford chemical vapor protection have asked that the trial be delayed five months.

Under the proposal from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Hanford Challenge and union Local 598 the trial date would be moved from September 2017 to Feb. 19, 2018.

Ferguson has previously accused energy officials of a “pattern of delay” in the case after DOE asked for more time to prepare for a preliminary injunction hearing.

The state and other plaintiffs cannot meet interim deadlines set to keep the case on track for a September trial in federal court because of the large number of documents received, with more expected, according to the plaintiffs. They also said they need more time to “digest the court’s recent ruling” for a preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs asked the court to order protections for Hanford workers who could be exposed to chemical vapors until the case is decided. U.S. Judge Thomas Rice denied the motions, but said the ruling did not mean that workers had not suffered from serious chemical-related illnesses.

The defendants in the case, the Department of Energy and Washington River Protection Solutions, have handed over almost 75,000 documents in the case, and the plaintiffs expect more to come.

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