From KING 5

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Members of the Washington state House of Representatives approved HB 1723 Thursday afternoon, which would help sick Hanford workers get their worker compensation claims approved.

The vote was 69 to 29, and now the matter goes to the Senate.

Prior to the vote, bill sponsor Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, urged his fellow House members to support the measure.

“I would hope that all of us would vote yes. Send a resounding emphasis to the Department of Energy as well as the Hanford contractors that this state backs the Hanford workers and wants to make sure they go home healthy and those who’ve been made ill (at the site) do get the adequate medical care,” said Haler.

HB 1723 aimed to help workers diagnosed with certain illnesses get the care and compensation they need. It would grant a presumption of occupational illness for Hanford workers, similar to what the legislature granted to firefighters in 1987. The illnesses included for Hanford workers include respiratory disease, heart problems experienced after an exposure to toxic chemicals, neurological diseases, such as toxic encephalopathy (occupational induced dementia), and certain cancers.