Contaminated mice hunted at nuclear site

Nov. 18, 2010 at 7:15 PM
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HANFORD, Wash., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Workers at the decommissioned Hanford nuclear complex in Washington say they are looking for a radioactive mouse, following the capture of a radioactive rabbit.

Radioactive mouse droppings have been found in the same area where radioactive rabbit droppings were found this month, officials of Washington Closure Hanford said.

The company is responsible for cleaning up waste sites, demolishing buildings, placing two plutonium production reactors and one nuclear facility in interim safe storage at the decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River, the (Kennewick, Wash.) Tri-City Herald said.

Because the mouse and rabbit droppings were found in the same area, WCH officials say they believe the animals ate or drank a common source of radioactive cesium contamination.

About 60 mousetraps have been set but the two mice caught so far have not been contaminated, the company said.

When Hanford workers began finding radioactive rabbit droppings, they checked 18 rabbits that were trapped. Just one was contaminated, and it was killed and disposed of as radioactive waste, the Herald said.

The goal of Hanford cleanup is to stop the spread of radioactive and chemical contamination left from World War II and the Cold War production of nuclear material and safely dispose of it.

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