RICHLAND, WA Bill Evans is a father of 3. He was working at the heavily contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant in 2016. He was a nuclear chemical operator who had worked his way into a position as a first-line supervisor.
His work included helping clean out and remove glove boxes where Hanford workers would reach their hands through gloves attached to portals to work with plutonium.
Plutonium arrived at the plant in a liquid solution and workers made it into metal buttons the size of hockey pucks or into oxide powder to be shipped to a nuclear weapons manufacturing plant from the 1950s into the ‘80s.
His job also included several entries into one of the most contaminated areas of the plant, the central canyon of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility where waste scraps were processed to pull out any usable plutonium.
Workers also had to remove other toxic material from the plant, including mercury, to prepare it for teardown.
Evans had no family history of seizures, nor had he ever had one, until the day in 2016 when he had a grand mal seizure as he sat in a chair at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.
He was told he could not return to Hanford work until the seizures were under control.
The seizures “just suddenly appeared,” he said.
At first, he had one or two a month. They have increased to nearly daily incidents, he said.
In addition to grand mal seizures, with a loss of consciousness and muscle contractions, he also has brief partial seizures.
If he’s feeling well and not slurring his word and stumbling, he sometimes can be left with his 19-month-old son for short periods of time, he said. He and his wife, Tiffany, also have two daughters, ages 9 and 11.
He’s reluctant to go out in public because he’s afraid he’ll have a seizure, he said. He may look like he is drunk, bumping into walls and tripping over objects.
But then tragedy struck. It was a day that he would be etched in him and everyone around him forever. Bill Evans remembers the date of the last day he worked at Hanford like other people might remember a birth date.
In effect, May 26, 2016, was like a birthday — the start of his new life wracked with seizures at age 42.
They have left the Richland father of three unable to drive, reluctant to go out in public and covered in scars.
Some are from cuts when he fell into a glass curio cabinet. Another on his head is from hitting a tool chest in his garage when a seizure struck
He suspects his problems are caused by exposure to chemicals, possibly mercury, during the 12 years he worked at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
He did not think he could qualify for the federal workers compensation program that has helped many ill Hanford workers.
One of his doctors said it was a possibility that he has toxic encephalopathy, a brain disorder that some Hanford tank farm workers have developed. It can be caused by exposure to chemicals.
He’s started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the dog, including travel expenses to California, and to help pay for medical expenses not covered by his insurance. Any money not needed will be donated to Little Angels Service Dogs.
So far, contributions at http://www.gofundme.com/epilepsy-response-dog total about $1,300 with a $50,000 goal. AS you can see, he still has a very long way to go. If only companies like Glaxo-Smith Kline (NYSE: GSK and GSK: LONDON) which closed Friday at $40.76 up +0.40 (+0.99%) a global healthcare company which engages in developing, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceutical products including vaccines, over the counter medicines and health-related consumer products could get on board with him in fulfilling his wish. Glaxo-Smith Kline is the number one global manufacturer of Lamictal anyway, the leading drug to prevent seizures.
A new worker-help center, the Hanford Workforce Engagement Center, has opened at 309 Bradley Blvd., Suite 120, in Richland to help ill workers navigate their options for benefits. Call 509-376-4932 for information.
309 Bradley Blvd., Suite 120,