Hanford Machinery Gets Off Site With Radioactivity

Oct 3, 2012

A federal contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation mistakenly sent a contaminated excavator to a repair shop offsite several weeks ago. No one caught the mistake until the excavator was checked back in late Monday.

Sound: Click, click

That’s the sound of radiation technicians checking the property of Powers Equipment in Pasco. The repair shop serviced an excavator that had been used to clean up a contaminated area of Hanford. A spokesman for the Hanford cleanup contractor says the radioactive contamination levels were low and it isn’t a threat to human health. Jim Powers, the shop owner, appeared to be taking the extra scrutiny in stride.

Powers: “Knowing the precautions that they take this is just standard procedure to be erred on the side of caution. I feel great. We have no concern at all.”

Mark McKenna with the Hanford contractor Washington Closure says all of the contamination was found bound-up in grease. McKenna says his company is reassessing how much it should dismantle equipment in the future to ensure radioactive contamination stays on site.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio