WA­TER IN­CI­DENT AT HAN­FORD

Tri-City Herald - - Front Page - BY AN­NETTE CARY [email protected]­i­ty­her­ald.com An­nette Cary; 509-582-1533; @Han­fordNews

Two Han­ford work­ers were ac­ci­den­tally sprayed with wa­ter in one of the fa­cil­ity’s ra­dioac­tively con­tam­i­nated ar­eas.

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 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.

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.

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.

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