Workers Evacuated at U.S. Nuclear Site after Leak
SEATTLE Some workers at the largest nuclear waste dump in the United States were evacuated Wednesday after a container filled with radioactive material was breached as it was being removed from storage, the U.S. Department of Energy said.
No radioactive or toxic contamination was found after technicians determined that the inner drum of the container had not been breached. The two workers who were evacuated were also found to be safe from contamination.
The 586-square-mile nuclear waste facility is located in south-central Washington state, about 150 miles southwest of Spokane, the state's second-largest city.
Donna Somers, operations manager at Hanford's Joint Information Center, said that the contaminants were contained and that normal operations had resumed.
"As it turned out there wasn't anything serious about it," Somers said, "We have standard (safety) procedures that we take that are conservative."
Hanford was started in 1943 to produce plutonium for the Manhattan Project and the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The clean-up of its radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals has become a contentious issue between environmental groups and the government.