Radioactive bird nest no longer a threat at Hanford

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 6:02 PM

Workers got the ‘all clear’ to return to work at the massive Waste Treatment Facility (WTF) at Hanford today after radioactive material was discovered Wednesday.

A Bechtel representative said inspectors discovered the low level material below a bird’s nest on one of the WTF complexes known as the High-Level Waste Vitrification and Pretreatment Facilities.

Bechtel said the radioactive soil was apparently part of the bird nest and since there are no radioactive materials at that construction site, it had to come from elsewhere.

Over the past several decades several animals were found to be exposed to radioactive materials produced at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. Rabbits, deer and other animals often feed in areas that are or were contaminated.

The WTF has other problems to deal with today. A new survey by a group within the U.S. Department of Energy sited several construction-related problems at the facility, which will eventually turn some of Hanford’s 50 million gallons of radioactive waste into glass logs. The survey found that field engineering contractors on the job were not doing a good job of assessing their own performances.

The survey from a May 2013 oversight review said the contractors were not reporting problems with current work only past work. The review did praise the contractors in other phases of the review.

Bechtel Response

"Bechtel National, Inc. appreciates the efforts of DOE-HSS. We received the report yesterday. We are currently assessing the information in the report and look forward to reviewing the detailed recommendations to help us continuously improve."

Link to the DOE report

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