The workers were among seven employees evaluated after a 7:45 a.m. accident at Savannah River Sites F Area, where nitric acid spilled during construction and decommissioning work, said Will Callicott, spokesman for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions the sites managing contractor.
Three workers were taken to Doctors Hospital in Augusta, and four other workers were examined at the accident scene and released. The old F Area Canyon, where the accident occurred, is a chemical processing facility that once manufactured plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Currently, the area is undergoing cleanup and decommissioning work. The nitric acid is one of the materials formerly used in plutonium production. No radioactive material was involved, Mr. Callicott said.
According to a written statement provided by SRS this morning: The three were part of a crew that was preparing an F Area facility for removal of process piping. While the crew was removing residual materials, they came into contact with nitric acid. Protective actions were issued for F Area workers while fire department personnel responded to the scene. Those protective actions have since been lifted.
The identities of those involved have not been made public, but the patients transported from SRS by ambulance were evaluated at the emergency room at Doctors Hospital, said Olena Scarboro, spokeswoman for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta.
SRS officials were unsure how much nitric acid spilled, but no formal cleanup is anticipated.
The S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control was notified of the accident early today, as protocol dictates whenever there is a release of toxic or dangerous materials, said DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick.
We found no environmental impact that would require a followup or visit or visual inspection, he said, adding that he was unsure of the quantity of nitric acid involved, or whether a cleanup would be required