Airborne Plutonium Samples Found at Hanford Near Highway 240 in June
The Washington State Department of Health says the air samples didn't show enough radioactive levels to be harmful, but how they got there is of great interest to officials.
Back on June 8th, workers were told to take cover indoors during demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, or PFP, at Hanford. During part of the deconstruction process, radioactive particles were released. Because of that release, the Department of Health took air samples at a variety of locations around the area.
After getting back analysis this week of the samples, small amounts of radioactive plutonium and americium were found in samples that were taken at the Rattlesnake Barricade. That's where workers enter the restricted areas of the reservation. It's located not far from Highway 240.
It's not the level of the radioactivity that concerns officials, but how they got there. The barricade is at least three miles from where the plant was being demolished, and a check of weather shows there was no verified wind that would have carried them there.
The samples, according to the Tri-City Herald, were collected in a place where contamination was not expected. However, air samples taken downwind from the PFP by the Columbia River, where the public is allowed, showed no contamination. More information is expected to be released soon, and the study of of how the particles got there continues. Officials do say there could have been small swirls of wind that carried them.