Hanford tank farm evacuated over potential vapors

HANFORD, Wash. -- A Hanford contractor has confirmed that one of the site's tank farms was evacuated Friday morning. It comes on the heels of dozens of workers exposed to vapors at the site.

An evacuation of the S tank farm was ordered around 9 a.m. Friday.

KEPR obtained a copy of that alert that came via text message. The alert indicated odors were present.

Hanford contractor Washington River Protection Solutions manages the tank farms. They would not agree to an on-camera interview, but sent a statement saying the evacuation lasted about 90 minutes, and that no workers were at the S tank farm at the time.

Our colleagues at KING 5 in Seattle reported that as many as 25 workers had refused to go to work because promised safety measures were not in place. These includes a way to monitor potential hazards.

WRPS reference the report but did not confirm or dispute it.

We asked repeatedly if workers had refused to go on site this morning. WRPS only referred back to this statement that doesn't answer that question:

"Work in the A complex of tank farms, which had been on restricted access following recent vapor incidents, resumed early this afternoon. Until further notice, workers in the A-complex farms are required to wear respirators."

KING 5 disputed this, saying the workers they spoke with had no plans to return to the A farm until monitoring equipment was in place.

All this comes on the heels of more than two weeks of reports of vapor exposure.

26 workers have needed medical care or an evaluation after breathing in chemical vapors. This includes workers from the S and T farms.

Earlier this week, WRPS has said it said it had identified possible sources of the emissions and had taken action. That was days before this morning's evacuation.

KEPR Action News was proud to air Susannah Frame's ongoing investigation into Hanford's Dirty Secrets in conjunction with KING 5. We presented a special report last summer.

Just this week, it was announced Susannah would receive the Peabody Award, one of the highest honors in journalism.