More workers taking down the plutonium finishing plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation inhaled or ingested radioactive contamination, with some workers unknowingly carrying radioactive particles into their cars, according to an Associated Press report.
In March, Hanford officials issued a report (Discovery of Contamination Spread at the Plutonium Finishing Plant during Demolition Activities - Root Cause Evaluation Report) that said 42 more Hanford workers inhaled or ingested radioactive particles from demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant when they were exposed during contamination events in June and December of last year.
Problems cited included relying on air quality monitoring procedures and crews mishandling contaminated demolition debris.
The continued and increasing incidents of radioactive contamination at the Hanford clean-up site has now prompted the Energy Department to launch an independent investigation as to why radiation contamination continues to be a serious problem on the site, despite repeated warnings and public commitments to greater worker safety. The Department of Energy owns the Hanford site which is about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.
Clean up work is being done by the CH2MHill Plateau Remediation Company, a contractor hired by DOE to demolish the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP)
The Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who together regulates Hanford cleanup, said the two agencies will not yet allow demolition work to resume at the plant. “We’re not convinced that Energy has adequate safeguards or monitoring in place to ensure safe operations,” the Ecology Department said in a press release. “This clearly is unacceptable for worker and public health and safety.”
Last February, a Hanford worker directly impacted by safety failures at the demolition project at the site was interviewed by KING 5: