2 Hanford workers sprayed with possibly contaminated water

Radiological workers have their hands and feet surveyed to ensure they are free of contamination

Take a look at this latest “Did You Know?” video that shows a demonstration of the hand and foot survey process at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.
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Take a look at this latest “Did You Know?” video that shows a demonstration of the hand and foot survey process at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.

Two Hanford workers were accidentally sprayed with water Wednesday evening in one of the nuclear reservation’s radioactively contaminated facilities.

Surveys for radioactive contamination found none on them, but checks of the liquid found it contained chemicals and cleaning solution.

One employee used an emergency shower as a precaution after she experienced a burning feeling on the back of her neck, according to a message sent to tank farm employees Thursday evening.

Crews were sent into the area after the event and found and removed low levels of radioactive contamination not associated with the water spray, according to the message from Washington River Protection Solutions.

The Liquid Effluent Retention Facility, which stores contaminated water until it can be sent to the nearby Effluent Treatment Facility at Hanford, can hold 23 million gallons of water.

The two employees were in the Effluent Treatment Facility processing room, which requires radioactive contamination precautions, to empty and clean out a sump water tank to transfer waste into another tank.

Shortly after 7 p.m. the hose connection apparently failed, leaking contaminated water onto the floor and spraying the workers.

The Hanford Fire Department sent an ambulance to the facility as a precaution. But the workers declined medical checks either on site or at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Both were back at work Thursday.

The Effluent Treatment Facility in the center of the site treats high volumes of waste water contaminated with low levels of radioactive and hazardous chemical contaminants.

The facility removes or destroys contaminants with filters, reverse osmosis, pH adjustment and ultraviolet lights to clean up to 28 million gallons of water a year.

Two workers were accidentally sprayed with potentially contaminated water Wednesday evening at the Effluent Treatment Facility. Courtesy Department of Energy

Cleaned water is injected into the ground. The remaining sludge is solidified, dried and sent to a lined landfill in central Hanford for low level radioactive and hazardous chemical waste.

The waste water to be treated is pumped or transported from several Hanford projects to outdoor water basins near the Effluent Treatment Facility for initial storage. The waste water includes water evaporated from waste stored in Hanford’s underground waste storage tanks to free up space.

ETF 1.jpg
The Effluent Treatment Facility in central Hanford treats up to 28 million gallons of water each year. Courtesy Department of Energy

Hanford tank farm contractor Washington River Protection Solutions has operated the Effluent Treatment Facility since 2015.

Before the facility opened in the mid ‘90s, the sort of contaminated water it now treats was dumped into the ground without treatment.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533; @HanfordNews