RICHLAND, Wash. – Federal regulators will begin inspecting the Columbia Generating Station after the nuclear plant shipped waste that had higher radioactivity than was reported.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said operator Energy Northwest has been temporarily barred by the Washington Department of Health from sending waste to a commercial disposal site.
Regulators said Monday the plant shipped low-level nuclear waste – a cask of contaminated filters – to the disposal site on Nov. 9. Workers there measured radiation levels seven times higher than reported in the shipping manifest.
Energy Northwest spokesman Mike Paoli said that though the radioactivity of the source was higher than on the manifest, the dose received by those handling the shipment remained well below the workplace safety standards.
The commission said there was no undue risk to the public, but a transportation accident could have potentially exposed people to excessive radiation levels.
A three-member inspection team will spend this week at the plant near Richland.
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