On June 8th, Washington State’s Department of Health collected air samples containing radioactive plutonium and americium at the Rattlesnake Barricade at the Hanford nuclear site.
These samples were collected at the location where workers enter the secure area of the site, where finding airborne contamination was unexpected.
According to the manager of the Radioactive Air Emissions section of the Department of Health, John Martell, the levels detected were very low. The Department of Health further stated that the amount of radiation detected is below the threshold of where human health would be a concern.
These particles were released during demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, a highly contaminated location three miles from the Rattlesnake Barricade.
This event follows a tunnel collapse that took place on May 9th. Radioactive material was discovered on a worker’s clothing shortly after that, which sparked fears of a leak. No leak was found, however, and the hole created by the tunnel collapse has since been filled with clean soil.
You can read more about this event here: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/plutonium-detected-in-air-at-hanford-nuclear-site/