Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 53° Partly Cloudy
News >  Washington

3-year-old Hanford vapors lawsuit may be delayed again

A structure is seen May 9, 2017 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Wash. (Manuel Valdes / Associated Press)
A structure is seen May 9, 2017 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Wash. (Manuel Valdes / Associated Press)
By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

Parties to the Hanford nuclear reservation chemical vapors lawsuit have asked a federal judge to delay the trial by 90 days, or more than three years after it was filed.

That would move the trial to Nov. 27, 2018, putting it and multiple filing deadlines beyond the time that the contract for the Hanford tank farm contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, is set to expire.

The current contract ends in Sept. 30, 2018, unless the Department of Energy grants an extension to the current 10-year contract.

The state of Washington, Hanford Challenge and the pipefitters union Local 598 sued DOE and Washington River Protection Solutions in September 2015, seeking better protection for Hanford workers at risk of inhaling chemical vapors.

Plaintiffs and defendants on Thursday requested the trial delay to allow more time to work toward a settlement in the case. They said in court filings that they have “continued to make significant progress.”

Parties have filed multiple times to extend deadlines to purse settlement talks, since the talks began after U.S. Judge Thomas Rice ruled against plaintiff’s request that the court require immediate increased worker protection.

If settlement talks fail and the case goes to trial, both sides must start filing briefings in the case, including a briefing that was due from plaintiffs on Nov. 9 under current deadlines.

The state has argued that workers have been sickened for decades at Hanford from chemical vapors associated with waste held in underground tanks.

Reports of possible chemical exposures have dropped significantly since the tank farm contractor began requiring workers to wear supplied air respirators for most work within the Hanford tank farms.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.