Not all the dangers in nuclear power are confined to the commercial production of electricity. Yesterday morning, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky suffered a major spill. The Paducah facility enriches uranium for reactors.
Workers were changing out a cylinder of chlorine trifluoride when a gasket failure occurred, resulting in an uncontrolled release of the gas mixture. Paducah declared an alert and ordered the evacuation of the C350 building. Additionally, workers in other buildings at the plant were ordered to “shelter in place” for the duration of the emergency.
Two workers were treated at an on-site medical facility for what were described as minor injuries from exposure to the gas. The emergency was terminated after more than two hours, although the C350 building remained closed at the time of the report to the NRC.