Six Hanford workers taken to hospital as precaution after a spill

October 2, 2013 

— Six Hanford workers were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland on Wednesday morning as a precaution after an unknown liquid spilled on some of them.

Tests are being conducted to determine what was in the liquid, but it was not radioactive, said Rob Roxburgh, spokesman for Department of Energy contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.

Workers were at the 242-A Evaporator building dismantling piping that previously had been drained and taken out of service, Roxburgh said.

They were removing piping valves when some liquid spilled out, getting on the clothing or skin of some of the workers, he said.

A couple of the workers felt discomfort on their skin, and all the workers who had come in contact with the liquid or were nearby were taken to Kadlec about 10:30 a.m., Roxburgh said. They were released from the hospital by late afternoon, but still needed medical clearance to return to work today.

“We’re always going to be conservative in our response to make sure our workers receive proper medical attention,” Roxburgh said.

The piping was left from some ongoing maintenance at the evaporator facility, which periodically is operated to reduce the volume of radioactive and hazardous chemical liquid held in Hanford’s 28 double-shell tanks.

The evaporation frees up space in the double-shell tanks to allow them to accept more waste from leak-prone, single-shell tanks that are being emptied.

The waste is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

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