US agrees to improve worker safety at polluted nuclear site

SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. government will pay $925,000 and improve worker safety to settle a lawsuit over employee exposure to chemical vapors at the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday that the U.S. Energy Department will test new technology to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that escape from nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

He says the settlement represents a major win for workers who have been getting sick for years.

The state, the nonprofit Hanford Challenge and the pipefitters union Local 598 sued the Energy Department and its tank farm contractor in 2015 seeking better protection for workers.

The tanks contain more than 50 million gallons of waste left from past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.