PASCO, Wash. – A federal contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation mistakenly sent a contaminated excavator to a repair shop offsite several weeks ago. No one caught the mistake until the excavator was checked back in late Monday.
Radiation technicians are checking the property of Powers Equipment in Pasco. The repair shop serviced the excavator that had been used to clean up a contaminated area of Hanford.
A spokesman for the Hanford cleanup contractor says the radioactive contamination levels were low and it isn’t a threat to human health.
Jim Powers, the shop owner, appeared to be taking the extra scrutiny in stride.
“Knowing the precautions that they take this is just standard procedure to be erred on the side of caution," he says. "I feel great. We have no concern at all.”
Mark McKenna with the Hanford contractor Washington Closure says all of the contamination was found bound-up in grease. McKenna says his company is reassessing how much it should dismantle equipment in the future to ensure radioactive contamination stays on site.
An excavator that had been used to clean up a contaminated area of Hanford was mistakenly sent off site for repair. Photo via Dept. of Energy
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio