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Tue Dec 1, 2020, 06:31 AM

New investigative report documents fires, violations at company treating Hanford wastes

RICHLAND, Benton County – In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.

The workers let it cool – but not long enough – before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.

A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”

This was one of two fires at Perma-Fix in 2019 that were not publicly disclosed by the company or state regulators. It offers an unsettling example of how things can go wrong at the private facility that treats radioactive and hazardous materials trucked in from Hanford, the highly polluted federal site which produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, as well as waste from elsewhere in the U.S. and other countries.

Read more: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/nov/27/new-investigative-report-documents-fires-violation/

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