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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that would cover cancer and other illnesses under presumption for former workers of the decommissioned Hanford nuclear site in Hanford, Washington.
H.B. 1723 addresses illnesses, including various cancers, suffered by workers of the 560-square-mile federally operated site, which has gone by several names since it opened in 1943. Hanford is known for having manufactured the plutonium used in one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.
The bill establishes presumption under the state’s workers compensation laws for workers who suffer from heart problems, neurological diseases, respiratory illnesses and specific cancers, including leukemia, lung cancer, bone cancer, kidney cancer, lymphoma and other cancers affecting more than a dozen body parts, according to the latest draft.
However, the presumption of occupational disease “may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence… (that) may include, but is not limited to, use of tobacco products, physical fitness and weight, lifestyle, hereditary factors, and exposure from other employment or nonemployment activities,” the law states.
Two U.S. senators are calling for the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate the way workers compensation claims have historically been handled by the department’s third-party administrator at the Hanford nuclear site in Hanford, Washington.