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Hanford workers take cover after drum starts smoking

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Hanford nuclear site (Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — Workers at the Hanford Burial Ground were ordered to take cover when a drum possibly containing radioactive waste began smoking.

The Tri-City Herald reports (http://goo.gl/MzbhLg ) the order was issued Wednesday morning, affecting about 130 workers and lasting about 90 minutes.

A spokesman for Washington Closure Hanford, the company responsible for cleaning up the waste sites, confirmed the incident occurred at the site about six miles north of Richland.

Spokesman Jerry Holloway described it as a reaction rather than an explosion, saying the possibility of reactions is anticipated whenever a drum is opened.

He said the drum was removed and put in an area designed to prevent reactions in drums from spreading.

Workers then reburied the drum as well as others in the same storage area, as a precaution.

Holloway says initial surveys indicate no release of hazardous material.