UPTON, NY - Approximately 175 gallons of clean water was spilled and became contaminated with low levels of radioactivity in a construction incident in an indoor waste-handling area at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory late Friday afternoon.
Because the water was spilled in a concrete- and lead-lined area that was designed to contain liquid radioactive waste, and since the water was removed immediately, there was no known release to the environment. No workers were exposed to the contaminated water.
The water was spilled when a contract construction worker who was helping decontaminate and renovate a former radioactive-waste handling facility in Bldg. 801 accidentally backed a forklift into the pull chain for an emergency shower. The forklift broke the shower's water supply pipe, releasing clean water onto the floor.
The water flowed to an existing containment area designed to collect any spills in the vicinity, where it became contaminated by low levels of residual radioactive contamination. It was pumped out of the area within hours and handled as low-level radioactive waste by the Laboratory's hazardous waste management staff.
The forklift operator is employed by Site Remediation Services, Inc. of East Windsor, Connecticut, which is renovating the waste-handling facility to bring it into compliance with Suffolk County Article 12 and to remove radioactive contamination on the floor and other areas.
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