Skeptical crowd comes out for Hanford's State of the Site

Skeptical crowd comes out for Hanford's State of the Site »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Department of Energy was back in town Tuesday night to present its Hanford State of the Site. It was a packed house, with multiple questions but very few logistical answers. Many of those answers could be summed up with, "Trust us, we know what we're doing," but there were more than a few skeptics in the room.

“I’m committed to this," said Kevin Smith, a DOE-ORP manager.

He said he’s committed to getting rid of tank farm vapors, the very thing that has sent 28 people to the hospital since mid-March.

Smith put his reputation on the line Tuesday night. But for Mike Geffre, a former Hanford contractor, it came down to one question.

“Bottom line is, does the Department of Energy acknowledge vapor exposure can cause health problems or even death?” Geffre asked. “Yes or no answer.”

“Sometimes you just can't give a yes or no answer and be 100 percent straightforward and honest,” responded Smith. “Vapors in general can cause health issues and in extreme cases can death. There's no question we do need to deal with vapors and we need to deal with them seriously.”

Smith reassured the audience that they’ve hired an independent group, Savannah River National Laboratory, to review the vapors. However, the fact that that group is run by the DOE was a point of contention for some.