The Department of Energy, which oversees the Hanford Nuclear cleanup in Eastern Washington, got slapped with a $115,000 fine for violations in its asbestos disposal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced earlier this week that its inspectors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation found improperly managed asbestos in 19 of 22 samples taken at demolition sites.
Based on samples taken at six demolition areas, the EPA said waste containing asbestos was improperly disposed at a Hanford waste facility and there may be as many as 35 more sites where asbestos has, or is suspected to have been, released to the soil.
According to an NPR report by Anna King
the alleged violations occurred during building demolitions in 2009 and 2010 when federal stimulus money sped up deconstruction projects.
Dennis Faulk, a manager with the EPA, says the federal contractor failed to document and label truck shipments of asbestos debris.
The Hanford cleanup which includes the demolition of hundreds of buildings at the site, which processed materials for construction of nuclear weapons for World War II and the Cold War.
In today’s Tri-City Herald, an article reported that the Department of Energy (DOE) is taking additional measures to protect Hanford workers from asbestos. It is heartening to see that the DOE responded to the many workers’ questions and concerns about their safety in Central Hanford.
This past Thursday, union officials and top Hanford officials communicated to all Hanford staff, explaining the steps that they have taken and will take to protect workers from additional asbestos exposure. Hanford employees had expressed worries over materials that containued asbestos but were not yet demolished during the environmental cleanup.
A number of the buildings at Hanford were built with asbestos laden materials pre 1976. Workers, however, voiced concerns about breathing in asbestos fibers that could cause cancer, lung diseases, and other serious illnesses that could go undetected for decades after exposure.