Y-12 uranium processing facility in Tennessee catches fire, 200 employees evacuated

Y-12 uranium processing facility in Tennessee catches fire, 200 employees evacuated
Опубликовано: Sunday, 26 February 2023 15:52

A fire ‘involving uranium’ broke out at a National Security Complex in Tennessee with all staff being evacuated from the site.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said that an emergency response responded to the blaze on Wednesday morning at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

All of their 200 employees were accounted for, with other buildings next to the site being evacuated as a precaution.

An NNSA spokesperson confirmed that the fire started at 9.15am at the federal facility, and the blaze was limited to the site itself.

They added: ‘Emergency Services responded to the event. The site activated the Y-12 Emergency Response Organization and we’ve been in close contact with local and state officials.

‘There are no reports of injury or contamination.’

But they confirmed that they would assess employees, if needed, following the incident.

Building 9212 is listed on the Department of Energy website as a uranium processing building, constructed in 1945.

It serves ‘as one of the primary chemical processing and enriched uranium production facilities at Y-12.’

The Oak Ridge complex was home to the Manhattan Project for research and development during World War II, which produced the first nuclear weapons.

It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.

Authorities confirmed that the material involved in the fire was a metal compound of uranium.

Congressional representatives were notified of the emergency as part of that response and were reportedly ‘comfortable’ with the response.

Around 1pm, officials announced that the rest of the complex had returned to business as usual but did not confirm if the fire was out.

The site was instrumental in the United States win over Nazi Germany during WWII because of the development of the atomic bomb.

Known as the ‘Secret City’, Oak Ridge was not on any maps and 100,000 workers were brought to the city to work on the then-secret Manhattan Project.

There have been several nuclear accidents in history with the corrosion of a reactor vessel head forcing 24-month outage of Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio, on 16 February 2002.

The most serious to date was the incident on Three Mile Island near Middletown, Pennsylvania, after it partially melted down on 28 March, 1979.

Experts determined that the approximately 2 million people in the nearby area during the accident were exposed to small amounts of radiation.

The accident’s exposure had no detectable health effects on the plant workers or surrounding public.

Thorough analysis of the accident’s events led to widespread changes across the U.S. commercial nuclear industry.

The NRC implemented new, more stringent regulations related to improved training, emergency response planning, as well as upgrades to plant design and equipment requirements.


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