Hanford Contractor Releases Statement on Tank Farm Vapor Events

Several incidents have occurred in the past week where Hanford workers have smelled chemical vapors in the tank farms, according Washington River Protection Solutions, a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Spokesman Rob Roxburgh says in each of the instances, workers responded in accordance with procedures and training to limit exposure.

This morning, two workers were transported to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland after complaining of coughing and throat irritation after smelling vapors in one of Hanford’s tank farms.  Workers in the farm exited the area and moved upwind. 

The two workers were examined and released from the hospital and returned to work.  Seven additional workers elected to go to the Hanford site medical provider, HPMC Occupational Medical Services, where they were examined and released.

Last Wednesday two workers were checked at HPMC after smelling chemical vapors and were returned to work.

According to a press release, Hanford’s underground waste tanks are vented to the atmosphere.  Chemicals contained in the waste generate vapors. Washington River Protection Solutions has a comprehensive industrial hygiene program that monitors chemical vapors in the tank farms and in recent years WRPS has taken a number of steps to reduce potential vapor exposures to its workers.

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