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Chemical vapors detected at Hanford site

Two workers hospitalized

RICHLAND – Two Hanford workers were sent to the hospital around noon Thursday as a precaution after developing respiratory symptoms that might be linked to chemical vapors from underground waste tanks.

About an hour earlier, two other workers smelled vapors and were sent to be checked out by the Hanford occupational medical provider.

The two workers sent to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland with nose and throat irritation were doing routine radiological surveillance at the group of tanks called the BY Tank Farm.

They were the only workers there, said John Britton, spokesman for Department of Energy contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.

The other workers, who smelled vapors, were at the C Tank Farm, where work is underway to empty waste from single-shell tanks into newer double-shell tanks until it can be treated for disposal.

C Tank Farm was evacuated and workers were instructed to stay upwind.

Restrictions at the BY Tank Farm, where a dozen 758,000-gallon tanks hold waste, were lifted about 4 p.m. However, access continued to be restricted at the C Tank Farm at the end of the day shift Thursday. It has seven tanks that still hold waste.

Hanford’s underground tanks vent chemical vapors to the atmosphere.

A windless Thursday morning helped to limit dispersal of the vapors, Britton said.

Tank farms are evacuated when workers smell the vapors, Britton said.


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