Hanford

Update: 5 Hanford workers report smelling possible chemical vapors

Hanford nuclear reservation workers are required to wear supplied air respirators for most work inside tank farm boundaries as protection from inhaling chemical vapors associated with tank waste.
Hanford nuclear reservation workers are required to wear supplied air respirators for most work inside tank farm boundaries as protection from inhaling chemical vapors associated with tank waste. Washington River Protection Solutions File

Five workers reported a suspicious odor inside a central Hanford building Monday afternoon, but declined a precautionary medical exam.

Workers report odors because they could be from potential harmful chemical vapors associated with waste in the nuclear reservation’s underground tanks.

Hanford workers wear supplied air respirators for most work inside the fence lines of the site’s tank farms as protection against inhaling the vapors.

Workers involved in the Monday incident were inside the 702-AZ exhauster building inspecting the emergency lighting system. The building serves the AY and AZ tank farms, but is outside both farms so supplied air respirators are not required.

Workers were told to leave the area Monday afternoon, and plans were made to collect air samples, according to contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.

Tuesday morning the contractor said sampling results showed no chemicals at levels of concern and access to the building was restored.

The last time suspicious odors were reported outside a tank farm at Hanford was Nov. 28. Workers were inside the 271-AW instrument building, which is outside the AW Tank Farm. Three workers received medical evaluations and were cleared to return to work the same day.

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