Small Radioactive Breach During Transport Process at Seattle Hospital

Thirteen People Decontaminated for Radiation Exposure

On May 2, 2019, thirteen people had to be decontaminated for radiation exposure following an incident at the research facility on the Harborview Medical Center campus in Seattle, Washington.


The personnel involved include two radioactive materials inspectors with the Washington State Department of Health and law enforcement officers who were present to observe removal of the device, as well as employees of a company contracted by the University of Washington to remove the device.

The device was in the process of being sealed and shipped to a safe disposal site and was located in a controlled-access work area in one of the buildings on the medical center’s campus.

A leak was detected and a radioactive material, cesium-137, was detected in the controlled worksite.  The contractor found contamination in the work area and that 13 people were contaminated.  No contamination was released outside of the area and there was no risk to the public, according to a news release from the Washington Department of Health.

Seattle Fire Department responded.  Ten of the workers were sent to the hospital for testing and possible treatment.  All personnel were decontaminated and released.

Radiation health physicists with the Washington Department of Health report that this type of work is fairly common, but release of radioactive material is very rare.  The Washington Department of Health is investigating the incident in partnership with the University of Washington and will provide more information as it becomes available.


The Harborview Medical Center is just east of the main hospital building.  The incident occurred at a loading area in the rear of the building.  The cesium-137 was being used at Harborview in the blood transfusion process.

Cesium-137 is used to irradiate blood, and in radiation therapy.  It is also used in some industrial gauges.  Cesium-137, which is water soluble, was widely spread by the nuclear accidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear plants.

For additional information, please contact Kate Lynch of the Washington Department of Health at (360) 485-5101 or at

Registration Open for Fall 2018 LLW Forum Meeting and Historic B Reactor Site Tour

Red Lion Hotel in Richland, Washington
October 2-4, 2018

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) is pleased to announce that registration is now open for our fall 2018 meeting, which will be held at the Red Lion Hotel in Richland, Washington on October 3-4, 2018.

In terms of planning and making travel arrangements, please note that there will be an optional site tour of Hanford’s Historic B Reactor for interested stakeholders from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. on October 2, 2018.

The Executive Committee will meet from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning (October 3, 2018).  The Disused Sources Working Group (DSWG) will meet from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Thursday (October 4, 2018). 

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to register and make hotel reservations for the meeting at your earliest convenience, as there is limited space available in our discount room block.

The Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management is sponsoring the meeting.

The meeting documents—including a meeting bulletin and registration form—are available on the LLW Forum Meeting page of the organization’s web site at 

As a new option for interested stakeholders, a registration form may be completed and submitted online.


Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry and other interested parties are encouraged to attend the fall 2018 LLW Forum meeting.

LLW Forum meetings are an excellent opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most recent and significant developments in the area of low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.  They also offer an important opportunity to network with other government and industry officials and to participate in decision-making on future actions and endeavors affecting low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.

LLW Forum Meeting Location and Dates

The fall 2018 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 3 (9:00 am – 5:00 p.m.) and Thursday, October 4 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at:

Red Lion Richland Hanford House Hotel
802 George Washington Way
Richland, Washington  99354

Located in the heart of historic Richland, the Red Lion Hanford House is centrally located for business and leisure travelers visiting the Hanford Reservation.  The hotel, overlooking the Columbia River, is within easy walking distance of several restaurants and government buildings.

Optional Hanford B Reactor Site Tour Logistics

The Washington State Department of Health will sponsor an optional tour of Hanford’s Historic B Reactor on Tuesday afternoon (October 2, 2018) from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.  The B Reactor is the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor.

Interested parties need to check the box on the LLW Forum meeting registration form, as well as complete and submit the separate Hanford B Reactor optional site tour registration form.  The tour originates from the B Reactor offices located about 7 minutes from the Hanford House.


All persons must pre-register for the LLW Forum meeting and pay any associated registration fees in order to be allowed entry.  Registration forms are needed in order to ensure that you receive a meeting packet and name badge.  Accordingly, interested attendees are asked to please take a moment to complete the meeting registration form at your earliest convenience and return it to the LLW Forum at the mailing or e-mail address listed at the bottom of the form.

Attendees that are planning to participate in the optional Hanford B Reactor site tour must also pre-register.  Please note that there is a separate registration form with differential submittal directions for the optional site tour.

The meeting is free for up to two individuals representing members of the LLW Forum.  Additional and non-member registration is $600, payable by check only to the “LLW Forum, Inc.”  (Credit card payments are not accepted.)


Persons who plan to attend the meeting are strongly encouraged to make their hotel reservations and send in their registration forms as soon as possible, as we have exceeded our block at the last few meetings.

A block of rooms have been reserved for Monday through Thursday (October 1-4, 2018) for meeting attendees at the special, discounted rate of  $96.00 (single/double rate) plus tax.  To make a reservation, please go to the booking link on the attached meeting bulletin or call (509) 946-7611, press zero for the operator and ask for a reservation under the discount group code WSDO1001.  Please note that you must provide the code in order to get the special, discounted rate.

The deadline for reserving a room at the discounted rate is September 10, 2018.

Transportation and Directions  

The Red Lion Richland Hanford House Hotel is located 10-12 minutes from the Pasco Airport, which is the nearest commercial travel connection.

If you have questions or require additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, Esq. — Executive Director of the LLW Forum and Project Director of the Disused Sources and Part 61 Working Groups (DSWG/P61WG) — at (754) 779-7551 or at


Washington Releases Annual Environmental Monitoring Report

In the spring of 2017, the Office of Radiation Protection, Environmental Public Health Division, Washington State Department of Health released US Ecology Washington’s Annual Environmental Monitoring Report for Calendar Year 2015.

Each year, US Ecology Washington submits an annual report, which is required by state law and the Washington State Department of Health’s license conditions as per Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-250-600.  WAC 246-250-340 also requires environmental monitoring.

US Ecology Washington receives and disposes low-level radioactive waste at the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington.

The report is now available on the agency’s website at  For additional information, please contact Kate Lynch at (360) 236-3259 or at

Special Inspection Conducted at Columbia Nuclear Generating Station

On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has begun a special inspection at the Columbia Generating Station to review circumstances surrounding the shipment of some low-level waste to a disposal facility.  The plant, operated by Energy Northwest, is located near Richland, Washington.


On November 9, 2016, workers at the plant shipped a single package of low-level nuclear waste to the
 U.S. Ecology disposal facility about 10 miles away.  When the package containing contaminated filters arrived, workers at the disposal facility noted a discrepancy between the radiation levels specified in the shipping manifest and dose rates they measured on the shipping container.  US Ecology personnel measured radiation levels more than seven times higher than documented in the shipping manifest.  The package was rejected and taken back to the plant where it is currently being stored.

The following day, the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) notified Columbia Generating Station officials that their disposal permit privileges to US Ecology were being suspended until a written plan containing corrective actions was approved and an on-site inspection conducted by state officials is completed.

Special Inspection

“The purpose of the NRC’s special inspection is to better understand the circumstances surrounding this event, which revealed weaknesses in the licensee’s process for packaging and preparing radioactive waste shipments,” NRC Region IV Administrator Kriss Kennedy said.  “While there was no undue risk to the public, had a transportation accident occurred, there was a potential that members of the public could have been exposed to radiation levels in excess of NRC regulatory limits.”

The three-member NRC team spent about a week on site evaluating the licensee’s cause analysis and the adequacy of corrective actions.  An inspection report documenting the team’s findings will be publicly available within 45 days of the end of the inspection.

For additional information, please contact Victor Dricks at (817) 200-1128.