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
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.