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Workers Evacuated at Hanford Nuclear Site

August 26, 2005

Richland, Washington-- The U.S. Energy Department evacuated some workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation in south-central Washington on Wednesday because of a suspected breach in a container, but initial surveys detected no radioactive contamination, officials said.

The incident occurred in an area where workers have been unearthing containers of waste that had been buried for years. The site is also near a landfill where some waste is being permanently buried.

A brown absorbent material escaped from a 55-gallon drum, but an inner drum that contained a small amount of radioactive material was not believed to have leaked and there was no environmental contamination, said Katie Larson, a Handford spokeswoman.

Tests also found no contamination on the two workers closest to the container or on nine others who were in the area, said spokesman Calvin Dudney.

The State Emergency Operations Center was activated to monitor the situation and assist surrounding counties if needed.