Elevated Radiation Triggers Alert, Temporary Evacuation at Hanford Tank Farm

Workers evacuated a tank farm at the Department of Energy's Hanford site Wednesday night when a radiological survey turned up elevated radiation suggestive of a waste leak.

No leaked material was found, but the site halted high-pressure nozzle cleaning of single-shelled tank C-101 when a health physics technician took an open-window dose reading of 150 mr/hr and a closed-window reading of 6 mr/hr on a piece of equipment. The readings indicated a potential leak of beta-emitting material in a sluicer transfer line or containment box, and a swipe test also confirmed elevated radiation, the DOE reported on a Hanford Web page that has since been removed.

Hanford declared an alert at 9:35 p.m. that lasted until 5:05 a.m., Thursday, when, according to the DOE, additional surveys showed no visible evidence of a leak or indications of contamination elsewhere at the site. No contamination was found on the evacuated workers. A fixative was applied to a three-square-foot area to prevent the spread of radioactive material, and employees reported to work as usual.

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