KENNEWICK, Wash. -

A federal judge has denied a request from the state of Washington for increased protections for workers on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation while a lawsuit against the Department of Energy and its contractor is heard.

The Tri-City Herald reports that U.S. Judge Thomas Rice said the ruling should not be taken to mean that exposure to vapors is not a serious issue for workers.

Rice said Hanford workers already are protected by a requirement that supplied air respirators be used within areas where waste is stored in underground tanks.

The state of Washington and others had asked the judge for a preliminary injunction that would have required the Energy Department and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, to better protect workers.

The case is scheduled for trial in September.