Cantwell Applauds The Opening Of Hanford Workforce Engagement Center

In Remarks, Senator Reaffirms Commitment to Supporting Hanford Workers

RICHLAND, WA – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) visited the Hanford Site to celebrate the opening of the Hanford Workforce Engagement Center.

The mission of the Engagement Center is to provide current and previous Hanford workers with help and information about care and compensation. Specifically, the center will be able to help workers with questions relating to the State of Washington’s workers’ compensation program, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, former workers medical screening program, beryllium health program, and any specific programs that might be offered by some Hanford contractors. The first-of-its-kind center is free for current and former workers and for relatives of workers who have occupational health questions.

The Engagement Center is a collaborative partnership between the Department of Energy, Hanford site contractors (led by Mission Support Alliance), the Hanford Atomic Metals Trade Council (HAMTC), and the Central Washington Building and Construction Trades Council. Staff for the center includes a representative from HAMTC and another from Building Trades.

“We are not done. We want to continue to improve the Federal claims process. We want to continue to pursue good research that is going to help us answer and unlock the last of the questions we need to make sure that we get Hanford cleaned up,” said Senator Cantwell. “Safety is a job that is never complete. That we have to be vigilant and we have to respect the tremendous amount of sacrifice that many many Hanford workers have made over generations.”

Senator Cantwell played a key role in the events that led to establishment of the Hanford Workforce Engagement Center.  In March 2017, Senator Cantwell initiated an IG investigation into the handling of workers claims. The Senator has written several letters to the Department of Labor requesting they improve the handling of federal claims out of the Seattle based office.

In Fiscal Year 2018, Senator Cantwell successfully inserted appropriations report language directing the Department to establish a center to help workers in addressing occupational health issues and navigating the claims process.

Senator Cantwell worked closely with both the unions and contractors to facilitate the staffing of the center to ensure it is represented by union representatives intimately familiar with the federal and state claims process.