Hanford workers who took cover offered radiation testing via Tri-City Herald

Hanford nuclear reservation workers who were at the site’s Plutonium Finishing Plant Thursday morning are being offered tests for radiation exposure.


But rather than rely solely on the results of air and other samples collected, “we believe each employee should have their potential exposure evaluated so they have that peace of mind,” the memo said.

Because the detection of airborne contamination was brief and workers were told to take cover, the potential exposure to radioactive particles was minimized, the memo said. 

A bioassay test for internal contamination can check for radioactive exposure as low as one millirem, which is equivalent to about a tenth of the radiation received in a chest x-ray.


Some spots of radioactive contamination were found outside the demolition zone, including on sidewalks, near a respirator station and near a vehicle access gate. Fixative was applied to glue the spots of contamination in place and plans made to remove the contamination.

When the alarm sounded, work was underway to peel back the face of one of the four glove boxes that span the length of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility’s central area, called a canyon. The glove boxes are part of the building’s structure and could not be removed intact.

Prior to open-air demolition with shears on the end of an excavator arm, equipment had been removed from the glove boxes, as much contamination as possible removed and fixative applied.

During demolition, water was sprayed to control dust and bright blue fixative was sprayed to glue any contamination in place.

The Plutonium Finishing Plant was used during the Cold War for a final processing step for Hanford-produced plutonium before it was shipped to nuclear weapons production facilities.

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