Radiation Release at ID Nuke Facility

Monday, April 20, 2015 @ 02:04 PM gHale

Nuclear officials told a citizen’s advisory board a minor accident last October temporarily shut down work at a cleanup site in eastern Idaho and exposed a staffer to low levels of radiation.

The accident Oct. 23 at the Idaho National Laboratory site came as workers repackaged nuclear waste, Idaho Cleanup Project spokesman Mark Brown said.

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The problem started with the ventilation system and caused radioactive contamination to spread throughout the building, he said.

Monitors went off, and workers evacuated, though Brown, speaking for the contractor that runs the New Waste Calcining Facility, CH2M-WG, didn’t say how many staffers ended up involved.

Decontamination efforts delayed work for seven weeks, and one worker suffered exposure to a small amount of radiation, but not enough cause health problems, Brown said.

The April 8 summary before the INL Site Environmental Management Citizens Advisory Board in Pocatello, ID, was the first public review of the accident, and officials have said it wasn’t serious enough to require further reporting.

Brown said they already implemented improvements, and the facility has been back on line for months.

The advisory board is a federally appointed citizens’ panel that offers advice and recommendations to the U.S. Energy Department’s environmental management program at the 890-square-mile facility.

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