Demolition at a highly contaminated complex at the Hanford nuclear reservation has been halted.
The work was stopped after monitors worn by workers showed they might have inhaled radioactive particles.
Seven lapel monitors worn by workers over three days at the Plutonium Finishing Plant complex tested positive for radioactive particles at levels of concern, according to laboratory results.
The highest potential exposure was 11 millirems for one of the workers. For comparison, the average person in the United States is exposed to 300 millirems of radiation annually from natural sources, such as radon or radiation bombarding the Earth from outer space.
The elevated lapel monitor readings were recorded on three days starting Friday at two locations outside the plant’s demolition area.
After the Wednesday laboratory results showed elevated readings for four lapel pins that workers wore on their collars on Tuesday, the Department of Energy contractor for the project called a halt to demolition before it started that morning.
The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council also issued a stop work order for its employees about noon Wednesday. HAMTC is an umbrella group for about 15 Hanford unions.
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