In 2011, the National Law Review ran an insightful piece on the Hanford Litigation.
My comment on the article is reprinted here:
I am very appreciative of this insightful analysis by Ms Jenna Greene of the chronic Hanford litigation, and the impact of Price Anderson upon the the litigation. I was born in 1950 in Richland, where both my parents were workers at the Hanford facility beginning in 1947. Plutonium production schedules remained accelerated even after the War, causing massive amounts of radioiodine (I-131) and other radioactive substances to be secretly released offsite onto those of us living downwind. I-131 can damage the thyroids and parathyroids. To make a long story short, my father died in 1996 of a highly aggressive form of thyroid cancer. My mother died of an equally virulent malignant melanoma less than three years later. My father, mother, and I, exposed to Hanford’s I-131, developed autoimmune thyroiditis. There is no history of thyroid disease anywhere else in our extended family. My mother also suffered from hyperparathyroidism. When precancerous cells were discovered in a thyroid nodule, my thyroid was surgically removed. I now have hypoparathyroidism, which causes severe muscle contractions and potentially, seizures, when my blood calcium levels are not constantly monitored. This is the picture of a damaged and dying family. My family is not atypical of those of us who lived in the downwind radiation plume from Hanford. As a plaintiff in the decades long Hanford litigation, I am acutely aware of the inequities of Price Anderson. Our country’s response to the victims of nuclear “incident,” in this case, Hanford, must be revised. Price Anderson mandates that the government “provide for full and prompt compensation of all valid claims” from nuclear incidents. Instead, as seen in Ms Greene’s review of the litigation, defense counsel has been highly enriched by the free flow of taxpayer dollars while plaintiffs’ counsel struggle to make ends meet. This is not justice for those of us significantly injured by Hanford’s secret radiation releases. A medical monitoring program finalized for us in 1997 by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the only help ever offered to us, has not yet been funded by the agency responsible for the program, the Department of Energy (DOE). It was the predecessor to the DOE, the Atomic Energy Commission, which oversaw the operation of the Hanford facility. The DOE has spent billions on clean up of the Hanford site, and not one dime to help those of us whose lives have been destroyed. Price Anderson must be revisited and revised. Endless expenditure of taxpayer dollars to defend against the downwinders is not the intent of this law. Criteria for medical help to those of us injured, and compensation for pain, suffering, loss of earning ability must be determined based upon our individual exposures, health risks, and the diagnosed diseases from which we currently suffer. Diseases related to the exposures we received can be defined as they have been for nuclear workers. As it is, the Hanford downwinders are seemingly invisible, without any help extended to us as we die from exposures caused by our government. And, when the next nuclear incident (be it a dirty bomb, a nuclear reactor accident, or other crisis) arises in our country, if the system is not changed, we will create yet another group of exposed, injured citizens without hope of any help forthcoming. To be American is to be both reasonable and compassionate. We are failing to meet that standard in the case of the Hanford downwinders.
— Trisha Thompson Pritikin