Washington v. Perry

Date: September 2nd, 2015

Topic: Pesticides & Toxics

Type: Lawsuit vs. Federal Government

Jurisdiction: Washington

Citation: State of Washington v. James R. Perry, et al., (USDC-Eastern Dist. of WA No. 4:15-cv-5087, consolidated under No. 4:15-cv-5086)

For decades, workers at the Hanford site (a decommissioned nuclear production complex) in Washington have been exposed to dangerous chemical vapors that are known to cause a range of health effects. After a large spate of vapor exposures in 2014, the Department of Energy commissioned an independent task force to study the problem. The task force issued a report (the Tank Vapors Action Team Report) that chronicled a long-standing culture of indifference to the problem by Energy and its contractors. The report also provided recommendations to fix the problem and to protect workers during the interim.

In 2015, Washington filed a citizen suit under RCRA alleging that Hanford worker exposure to chemical vapors constituted an “imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.” A similar RCRA citizen suit was filed by Hanford Challenge and the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 598, and the two cases were consolidated. The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction which the court denied on the basis that Energy and its contractor had instituted some interim worker protections following the filing of the lawsuit. Trial in the case is set for March 2018.

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