Hanford

Hanford workers report possible vapors at tank farm

Hanford workers now wear supplied air respirators inside the fence line of Hanford tank farms.
Hanford workers now wear supplied air respirators inside the fence line of Hanford tank farms. Courtesy DOE

Four Hanford workers reported symptoms consistent with exposure to chemical vapors in the Hanford AX Tank Farm Wednesday morning.

Five other workers reported suspicious odors as workers were putting on protective clothing in a dressing facility outside the tank farm, according to Washington River Protection Solutions. Supplied air respirators are not required outside tank farm fence lines.

Workers inside the tank farm and also those at the dressing facility were instructed to leave the area. No waste-disturbing work, which can increase the likelihood of vapor emissions, was being conducted inside the AX Tank Farm at the time of the report.

Six workers, including the four reporting symptoms, were given medical evaluations. The other three workers declined.

All workers were released to return to work, according to Washington River Protection Solutions.

Although symptoms were not made public because of medical privacy laws, typical symptoms reported are coughing, headaches, a metallic taste in the mouth and being light headed. Workers are concerned that chemical exposure could lead to serious lung or nervous system illnesses.

Infrastructure is being installed in the AX Tank Farm to allow waste to be emptied from four single-shell, underground tanks there and transferred to newer double-shell tanks until the waste can be treated for disposal.

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