The World Nuclear News reported this morning on two accidents involving nuclear materials:
Separate spillages of nuclear materials at facilities in Belgium and the USA appear to have been without radiological impact, although personnel involved in both incidents are undergoing tests to confirm their degree of exposure.
The incident in Belgium involved exposure to plutonium:
One inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency and another inspector from Euratom, as well as a worker were exposed to plutonium during an annual inspection of fissile material inventory at Belgian radioactive waste management company Belgoprocess. The trio were contaminated when a container with a small amount of plutonium in it fell to the floor. They were immediately taken to a specialised laboratory for decontamination and monitoring.
The accident has been rated as a level two on the International Nuclear Incidents Scale.
The Wyoming incident involved yellowcake:
…the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is carrying out a special inspection at Uranium One’s Irigaray and Christensen Ranch in situ recovery uranium facilities in Wyoming after release of yellowcake – uranium oxide recovered from ore – inside the plant. According to the regulator, two operators who were working at the facility on 2 October noticed airborne yellowcake after an alarm sounded and the plant’s yellowcake dryer automatically shut down. It appears that the yellowcake escaped when a seal on the dryer broke.
Levels of exposure are still being determined on this incident.