BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — An alert was issued late Wednesday night at the Hanford Nuclear Site in southeast Washington for the lowest level emergency following the detection of radiation on Hanford’s grounds.
The low-level emergency was issued at 10:32 a.m. when higher than expected levels of radiation were found on a routine test of the C Tank Farm, indicating the “potential of a waste transfer leak.” All operations were halted, and personnel were evacuated from the C Tank Farm area. Other affected facility personnel were instructed to take cover, or shelter in place.
Benton and Franklin Counties’ Emergency Operations Centers were activated shortly after the first reading, but the emergency alert was relegated to Hanford’s grounds.
Additional radiological tests found no detectable levels of contamination, and the alert-level emergency was lifted at 5:05 a.m. Higher than expected levels of radiation were confirmed, but there was no indication of a leak or spill, and the levels were less than originally discovered, officials with Hanford said. Workers were instructed to report to the site as normal. C Tank Farm prepared to return to normal operations.
Built by early Hanford scientists, engineers, and constructors, single-shell and double-shell storage tanks were constructed throughout Hanford’s 200 Area to store the radioactive liquid wastes generated from the processing facilities on site.