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More tests ordered for plutonium-exposed Idaho lab workers via Reuters

(excerpt)

POSSIBLE DAMAGE INSIDE FUEL CONTAINER

The accident occurred inside a deactivated nuclear reactor located within a complex of facilities used for remotely handling, processing and examining spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste and other irradiated materials.

The technicians were exposed when a foot-long, rectangular container of plutonium fuel inside the reactor was opened during work to prepare the material for shipment to another facility, Johnson said.

“This was a procedure that has been done many times before,” Prentice added.

The technicians were dressed in lab coats and wearing gloves, but the work they were performing requires no respirators or other special protective gear, Johnson said.

Sixteen workers were in the room, but “only a couple” were handling the fuel container in question, he said.

A subsequent inspection of the container, shaped like a covered cake pan, showed its exterior did not appear to be damaged, but “there may have been damage” to a layer of stainless steel that envelopes the fuel inside, Prentice said.

Read the full article at More tests ordered for plutonium-exposed Idaho lab workers

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