Hanford workers examined after smelling chemical vapors

Hanford workers examined after smelling chemical vapors
In this May 6, 2004 file photo, workers use heavy machinery to remove waste in an area near two dormant nuclear reactors on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash.
WASHINGTON RIVER PROTECTION SOLUTIONS NEWS RELEASE -- There have been several incidents in the past week where Hanford workers have smelled chemical vapors in the tank farms. In each of these instances, workers responded in accordance with procedures and training to limit exposure.

This morning, two workers were transported to Kadlec Hospital 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.

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.