RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - Legislation that could allow ill Hanford workers to more easily get worker compensation claims approved has been passed by the state House.

Substitute House Bill 1723, which still must be considered by the Senate, is modeled after similar protections given to firefighters in Washington who develop serious illnesses. It was introduced by Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, a former Hanford nuclear reservation worker.

News sources report that under the bill, many conditions would be automatically assumed to be caused by working as little as one eight-hour shift anywhere on the site, instead of workers having to prove that a medical condition was caused by a specific exposure at Hanford.

Covered conditions would include respiratory disease, neurological disease and a wide range of cancers.

The bill says the presumption that conditions were caused by working at Hanford could be refuted by other evidence, like smoking, physical fitness, lifestyle and family history.