Hanford

Potential chemical vapors reported at Hanford tank farms

Hanford nuclear reservation workers are required to use supplied air respirators inside the fence lines of Hanford tank farms.
Hanford nuclear reservation workers are required to use supplied air respirators inside the fence lines of Hanford tank farms.

An odor consistent with chemical vapors was detected near work trailers outside Hanford’s AP Tank Farm Wednesday.

None of the nine workers in the area reported symptoms, and all declined medical evaluations. They were told to leave the area and access was restricted.

Workers wear supplied air respirators as protection from tank vapors when they enter any Hanford tank farm.

However, odors were reported during pre-job briefings at work trailers about 200 yards east of the AP Tank Farm fence line, according to Washington River Protection Solutions, the Department of Energy’s Hanford tank farm contractor.

Workers reported the odors as smelling like rotten eggs, sulfur or onions.

Industrial hygiene collected and analyzed samples after the smells were reported. When none of the samples showed contaminants above background levels, workers were allowed to return to the work trailer area.

This was the first report of possible chemical vapors in 2017. More than 50 workers received medical checks in 2016 because of potential exposure to chemical vapors and were cleared by the site’s occupational health provider to return to work.

Some workers are concerned that chemical exposure could lead to serious neurological or respiratory illnesses.

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