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“It was complete chaos” says Hanford worker who inhaled plutonium via King5 News

The worker tested positive for inhalation of the potential lethal nuclear isotope of plutonium – a key ingredient to the production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this report stated this was the first time a worker who had inhaled plutonium was speaking publicly. Since then, we have learned that the Seattle Times spoke with a worker in December. Here is a link to that report,

A Hanford worker directly impacted by safety failures at an extremely dangerous demolition project at the site has granted an interview to KING 5.

The worker tested positive for inhalation of the potential lethal nuclear isotope of plutonium – a key ingredient to the production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

“I’m pissed. I’m scared, like we all are, that sooner or later it’s going to bite me and I’m going to end up with cancer,” said the contaminated worker.

For fear of retaliation, the worker does not want to be identified. Eight months ago, on June 8, the person was one of hundreds working on the demolition of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP). The workers were told to ‘take cover’ as a ‘precaution’ because monitors detected radioactive plutonium particles could be in the air.

[…]

Indeed, radioactive particles had escaped and spread outside the demolition zone. Hundreds of workers were eventually tested. Thirty-one of them got bad news: They had inhaled or ingested plutonium, which emits alpha radiation, the worst kind of radiation to get inside your body.

“Plutonium will go to the bones and sit there for a long, long time,” said Dr. Erica Liebelt, a toxicologist and executive director, as well as medical director, of the Washington Poison Center.

“Your risks are lung cancer, liver cancer, and bone cancer. That’s where plutonium heads in the body.”

“(After being told no one was hurt) I was angry. You carry that with you for the rest of your life. It’s a cancer causer,” said the worker interviewed by KING 5.

[…]

The Washington State Dept. of Health monitors radiation levels and the safety of the public at Hanford. On January 30, the Dept. of Health wrote a strongly worded letter to the Dept. of Energy expressing its serious concerns with the demolition, including a warning that rushing the job for financial reasons would be unacceptable.

“If work speed is increased with the intent of meeting a milestone, and doing so risks spreading contamination, we feel this should be discussed with lead agencies,” wrote Clark Halvorson, Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Health.

Read more at “It was complete chaos” says Hanford worker who inhaled plutonium 

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