First Look Into Rooms Where Hanford Workers are Tested for Levels of radioactive materials in the Body

After more than 50 years of operating, we're finally getting a first look into the In Vivo Radiobiassay & Research Facility in Richland.

The IVRRF helps ensure that the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors adequately monitor employees who work with radioactive materials at Hanford.

Five separate rooms made of stainless steel, lead and iron serve the purpose of testing levels of radioactive material within the body.

The stainless steel room measures radiation coming from the lungs; a Hanford worker would lie still for 50 minutes and as soon as that time is up, results notify the technicians of the levels of radioactive material in the lungs.

The Whole Body Count Room, now called the Palmer room is made of 12-inch thick hardened steel and is used to measure radioactive material levels in the entire body including muscles.

The room was named after Earl Palmer, a scientist and former manager of IVRRF who helped bring the room to Richland from the University of Utah in 1989.

Palmer said this technology is essential to ensure the safety of his fellow scientists.

"Radioactivit,y if it isn't controlled, can be very dangerous," said Palmer. "This is an important part of making sure that the workers on the project are free and if there is a contamination incident."

Nearly 5,000 Hanford workers come through this faciltity for annual visits.

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