OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Nov. 3 that a federal judge has rejected the U.S. Department of Energy’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit over worker safety issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington Judge Thomas Rice ruled Ferguson has the authority to bring the lawsuit. Rice rejected the Department of Energy’s argument that it is not endangering enough Washingtonians for the state to be able to sue.
“This motion was just another example of the federal government’s culture of indifference to worker safety at Hanford,” Ferguson said. “Rather than continuing to evade responsibility with procedural motions, the federal government and their contractor should focus on protecting Washington workers.”
Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed in September 2015 against the Department of Energy and its contractor Washington River Protection Solutions, charges that hazardous tank vapors at the reservation site pose a health risk to workers. The lawsuit can now proceed after the court’s ruling.
A trial before Rice is set for Sept. 18, 2017, but Ferguson believes the workers on the site can't wait that long for better safety measures. He therefore filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent harm to the workers in advance of the trial.