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Hanford workers seeking help for chemical exposure

[AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File]

YAKIMA, Wash. - Former Hanford workers are seeking help to get workers compensation for the toxic chemicals they were exposed to as employees.

Dale Geer said he worked at the Hanford site for more than 30 years. He worked with nuclear waste recycling and stabilization and he said when he started the job he wasn't aware of the possible dangers.

"We went out and did the job and we were not informed to the hazards," Geer said.

He said his team wore respirator masks but the masks didn't have chemical filters on them. He said he felt the plant was constantly playing catch-up to safety protocols.

"So much of this is avoidable, it doesn't need to happen," Geer said.

Doctor Raymond Singer is a clinical neuropsychology who flew in from New Mexico to hear from the Hanford workers.

He said because the symptoms from toxic exposure can be unusual, so it's often hard to identify and prove. Singer said he thinks with his techniques he can identify some of the factors to help make a claim that shows workers were more likely to be affected than not.

"You can assess your symptoms yourself, I would recommend workers do that," Singer said. "That way they have some way to establish their symptom baseline before they enter into the situation where they may be exposed to neurotoxic chemicals."

Singer said toxic exposure can impact one's basic functions such as memory, anxiety, difficulty planning, forgetfulness, headaches and sleep disorders.

Geer said he has experienced a few of the symptoms himself.

"Yes I have had some serious exposures," he said. "It was so bad I actually thought over a period of time that I was going insane."

Geer said he's been denied a claim from the Department of Labor multiple times but is not giving up his fight.

Governor Jay Inslee recently signed a bill into legislation that is supposed to help Hanford workers make worker compensation claims easier.

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