A District Court in Spokane, Washington, decided this week that a Coeur d'Alene woman did not prove that her thyroid cancer was caused my nuclear emissions from the Hanford Nuclear site. Shannon Rhodes, 64, was one of six "bellwether plaintiffs" who sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and General Electric, the corporations that operated the Hanford site during the mid-20th Century. During that period, the site produced plutonium for nuclear weapons, but also released radioactive emissions into the surrounding countryside. In the 1990s, over 2,000 former neighbors of the site sued the contractors for illnesses they say resulted from the emissions, but defense attorneys chose six particular cases to represent the large group.
Earlier this year, two of Rhodes' fellow plaintiffs won their cases. Three others had their claims denied. Rhodes' original trial ended in a hung jury, setting the stage for this emotional re-trial. According to coverage in the Spokane Spokesman Review, many in the courtroom were brought to tears by Rhodes' testimony--in particular her account of several new, aggressive tumors that doctors say will end her live within a few years.