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Hanford work stop order lifted after union and contractor have tentative agreement

FILE--In this July 9, 2014, file photo, a sign warns of radioactivity near a wind direction flag indicator at the "C" tank farm on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council on Monday, June 20, 2016, issued a list of demands to the U.S. Department of Energy and its tank farm contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions. The council is an umbrella group for 15 unions with members doing Hanford work. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

HANFORD, Wash. – Representatives with the trade union representing workers’ rights at the Hanford site said they worked with a Hanford site contractor to help resolve the stop work order at the Hanford tank farms.

Hanford Atomic Metals Trade Council (HAMTC) President Dave Molnaa was in mediation with representatives from Washington River Protection Solutions, (WRPS) for several days according to the HAMTC’s Facebook page.

The stop work order was lifted but all workers at the tank farms will remain on supplied air until testing and confirmation from a third party shows the tanks are able to protect workers from vapors coming from the various chemicals stored in them.

The stop work order was put into place by the trade union, on July 11 on the double-walled tanks, meaning nearly 2,000 Hanford employees were pulled off the job. Supplied air is required for workers at the older, single-walled tanks but not for the double-walled ones according to the Associated Press.

There have been over 50 incidences of possible vapor exposures at the Hanford tank sites in the last three months.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and now contains millions of gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks in southeastern Washington, according to the Associated Press. The government is spending $2 billion a year to clean up the site.

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