The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Another six workers tested positive for radiation at Hanford nuclear reservation’s Plutonium Finishing Plant.

More workers tested positive for Hanford radiation, The 6 people are added to 31 who tested positive for inhaling or ingesting contamination in June, February 15, 2018 By Annette Cary / Tri-City Herald

Another spread of radioactive contamination has been confirmed at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s Plutonium Finishing Plant.

In addition, more central Hanford workers have tested positive for inhaling or ingesting radioactive contamination from demolition of the plant.

For the second time since workers were moved in January to offices away from the plant, contamination has been found on the steps of the newly assigned offices.

Most recently, a spot of radioactive contamination described as about the size of a 50-cent piece was found on the step outside an office on Feb. 8. The step has been removed.

In some cases radiation detected at Hanford is determined to have come from naturally occurring radon, but in this case it appears to be related to demolition of the heavily contaminated plant.

Demolition and the packing and hauling away of the debris has been stopped at the plant since mid-December after a spread of particles of radioactive contamination was discovered.

  • Most of the demolition of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility, the most contaminated portion of the plant, had just been completed when the spread was found.

    Several steps have been taken since December, including bringing in new contractor management for the project, widely expanding the area where access is controlled and moving workers from offices near the plant to offices outside the control area.

    Workers take shuttles to and from the plant, as needed for work assignments, from their newly assigned offices.

    In response to the first discovery of a spot of contamination outside the new offices in late January, more stringent rules were instituted for checks of workers leaving radiologically contaminated demolition areas.

    In response to the Feb. 8 spread, the radiological buffer around areas where radioactive material is expected to be present has been expanded. Workers have their hands and feet checked for radiation when they leave that area to board a shuttle to offices.

    The number of workers known to have inhaled or ingested radioactive particles has increased to six.

    Some 212 workers who requested checks had no contamination, with about 60 checks pending. Bioassays, or checks of body waste, are being done to determine if workers have radioactive contamination inside their bodies.

    The amount of internal contamination is small. The largest estimated radiation dose for the six workers is 10 to 20 millirem over 50 years.

    In comparison, the average person in the United States receives about 300 millirem a year annually from natural background radiation, including radon or radiation bombarding the Earth from outer space.

    The six workers with positive bioassay results are in addition to 31 workers who tested positive for inhaling or ingesting radioactive contamination from Plutonium Finishing Plant demolition in June. The highest estimated dose from June was 10 millirem total over 50 years.

    No radioactive contamination has been found on vehicles at the plant for several weeks……..


February 17, 2018 - Posted by | health, USA

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