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LAT: Cases Against (Hanford, Washington) Nuclear Plant Finally Heard [View All]

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-16-05 10:06 AM
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LAT: Cases Against (Hanford, Washington) Nuclear Plant Finally Heard
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Cases Against Nuclear Plant Finally Heard
After 15 years of delays, 2,300 plaintiffs who say radioactive releases at the Hanford site made them seriously ill wait for a jury's decision.

By Tomas Alex Tizon
Times Staff Writer
May 16, 2005

....After nearly 15 years of delays, the first trial involving (the Hanford, Washington, nuclear reservation) "downwinders" got underway in Spokane last month. A jury in U.S. District Court is to begin deliberations today to decide whether the plaintiffs were "more likely than not" harmed by the plant's discharges.

If the plaintiffs win, jurors would determine damage awards, which both sides say could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Damages would be paid by the U.S. government, which indemnified the contractors. The government is also paying for the contractors' defense, a legal bill that has already exceeded $60 million.

The trial focuses on several bellwether cases, a method used in toxic tort litigation that involves large numbers of plaintiffs. Six people with thyroid illnesses were chosen as representative cases in the Hanford lawsuit....The verdict would become a standard that lawyers could use to settle the other cases.

Hanford released a host of chemicals, but the focus of the Spokane trial has been on one radioactive substance, iodine-131, which was carried by winds to cover 75,000 square miles of eastern Washington, parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana and southwestern Canada....


The contractors, in this case two Fortune 500 corporations, DuPont Co. and General Electric Co., say there's no proof that substances released by Hanford caused thyroid problems in the downwind area. Their lawyers rely heavily on a 13-year, $19.5-million federal study that concluded in 2002 that "no associations between Hanford's iodine-131 releases and thyroid disease were observed."...,0,5892929,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines
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