Union Calls Communication Between Hanford Contractors "Broken" - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Union Calls Communication Between Hanford Contractors "Broken"

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NBC Right Now told you Tuesday about a Mission Support Alliance "stop work" order for employees at the Hanford tank farms. Now, one of the union stewards that issued the "stop work" order tells us why. NBC Right Now told you Tuesday about a Mission Support Alliance "stop work" order for employees at the Hanford tank farms. Now, one of the union stewards that issued the "stop work" order tells us why.

KENNEWICK, WA - NBC Right Now told you Tuesday about a Mission Support Alliance "stop work" order for employees at the Hanford tank farms. Now, one of the union stewards that issued the "stop work" order tells NBC Right Now why it was issued.

The Boilermakers Union, representing union members employed by MSA, says changes must be made before they allow their workers back to the tank farms.

The Boilermakers Union steward, Fred Rumsey, says the order came from concerns about workers exposed to chemical vapors at the tank farms and sent for medical evaluations. Rumsey said, communication between all Hanford site contractors is broken.

Now, a series of briefings on the tank farm vapors aim to make progress in a system that several workers tell us they're losing faith in.

"It's been going on for years. Contractors, they do not communicate. Sometimes they're forced to albeit reluctantly. They don't always share information. Even when they do, they do a poor job of getting that information out to their employees," said Rumsey.

Unions stood up to Washington River Protection Solutions when they issued a stop work order Tuesday for MSA contract workers.

Rumsey says communication is the way out of the "stop work" order. He says workers want to know what's going on.

"They want answers. They want information. That is what wasn't happening. Communication between the contractors was broken," Rumsey said.

Rumsey could not do an on camera interview Wednesday because he attended back to back briefings for MSA workers. At the briefings, WRPS explained the chemical vapor exposure that happened to workers at the tank farms.

Rumsey says MSA workers were not getting solid information until now.

Rumsey says communication is so limited between contractors that their have been cases when a tank farm was evacuated, but nearby MSA workers were never notified of the threat.

"Every contractor is so focused on their own scope of work they're failing to recognize how another project right next to theirs may be affected. Or some of the people working on their project do in fact belong to another contractor. I think this has opened a lot of eyes though and we're working through that," Rumsey said.

Groups of 50 to 100 MSA employees are included in each of the briefings. The briefings began Tuesday and are scheduled through Monday.

Rumsey says, when WRPS has a solid commitment to fix the problem they will lift the "stop work" order. He says he's hopeful that will be in the next few days.

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