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Hanford Workers Sickened by Toxic Exposure Will Wait Another Year More for Benefits

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

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Industry News

Seattle Times | Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:00 am | By Patrick Malone

The workforce that built the U.S. nuclear arsenal, thousands of them already sickened or killed by workplace hazards, has been delivered two frustrating blows by the federal government.

At least 937 nuclear workers nationwide — including some from Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation — seeking federal benefits for conditions resulting from their work are facing yearlong waits, as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health wrestles with cyber vulnerabilities even as new benefits applications stack up.

Adding to the workers’ woes, President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday announced it plans to continue a Trump-era legal challenge to a Washington state law that makes it easier for sick workers to access benefits. Advocates for sick nuclear workers have characterized the collision of disappointments as “callous” and “cruel.”

Advocates for sickened workers said the abrupt pause in processing benefit applications at NIOSH has caused a prolonged delay, likely preventing claimants with cancer from getting medical care and financial assistance.

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