Panel Finds Problem with Hanford Vapors

Contamination at Hanford tank did not come from leak

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A new report concludes that the U.S. Department of Energy does not have an adequate system to detect whether harmful vapors are sickening workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most polluted nuclear site.

Dozens of workers in the past year have reported smelling vapors and then becoming ill after working around some of the 177 underground nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford. The wastes are byproducts of the Cold War-era production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The workers were checked by doctors and cleared to return to work.

But the new report concludes that the methods used to study the vapor releases were inadequate. The report says vapors coming out of tanks in brief puffs at high concentrations are intersecting with the breathing zones of workers.

Click here to read the full report.