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Hanford employees told to stay inside as more contamination found

A stop work order went out Sunday night due to a "contamination spread." Work began again on Monday and then halted again.

All Hanford employees who work in and near the plutonium finishing plant (PFP) demolition complex were told to stay inside buildings and trailers on Monday.

Hanford sources said they were told to remain in place after radioactive contamination was found outside of the project’s containment zone.

One worker said they’ve been stuck “for hours.” Other sources said surveyors are walking from trailer to trailer to test people for contamination.

“It’s out of control. It’s horrible,” said one citizen, whose cousin is in the lock down. “(She told me) they are stressed out and worried and everything is being kept a secret.”

After KING 5 began tweeting about the situation this afternoon, Hanford officials tweeted back: “Not an emergency at Hanford. Surveying for contamination near PFP. Access to area restricted.”

In response, another worker stuck inside told KING 5, “That is bull sh**.”

Specific questions about the event have been unanswered by the Dept. of Energy, Hanford’s owner.

The PFP is where plutonium buttons were manufactured throughout the Cold War. The buildings were so lethally radioactive that the job of demolishing the structures is considered the most hazardous project underway at the nuclear clean-up site.

This is the latest problem with contamination spreading at the PFP project. Last Thursday work was halted after monitors worn on the lapels of workers recorded high levels of radioactivity. Testing showed the particles contained the radioactive isotopes of plutonium and americium.

On June 8, approximately 350 Hanford workers were ordered to “take cover” after monitors found airborne radioactive contamination. At the time Hanford workers said the event was “precautionary” and that “workers were not at risk.”

In August the KING 5 Investigators found that workers were at risk, and some had been contaminated with plutonium internally. Thirty-one workers from that event were contaminated by either ingesting or inhaling particles.

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