Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jury: Nuclear facility didn’t give woman cancer

November 24, 2005

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— A federal jury Wednesday rejected an Idaho woman's claim that Cold War emissions from the Hanford nuclear weapons complex caused her thyroid cancer.

The case was one of the first to go to trial out of thousands of such claims against the contractors that once operated Hanford. Hanford produced plutonium for nuclear weapons, starting with the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb during World War II.

Shannon Rhodes' attorney, Richard Eymann, said she was "devastated" by the verdict, which came six months after another jury deadlocked in her case.

Rhodes, 64, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was one of six "bellwether" cases thought to be representative of more than 2,000 people who claimed their health was damaged by Hanford releases.

In May, a federal jury ruled in favor of two of the plaintiffs and awarded them a total of about $545,000, far less than it cost to bring the case to trial. It rejected three plaintiffs' claims and split in Rhodes' case.

Kevin Van Wart, an attorney for former Hanford contractors General Electric Co., the DuPont Co. and UNC Nuclear Inc., said the verdict shows that claims of health damage from small doses of radioactive iodine are unfounded.

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