A barrel containing radioactive sludge ruptured at an Idaho nuclear facility, federal officials said Thursday, resulting in no injuries and no risk to the public but possibly slowing progress in shipping waste out of the state.
The U.S. Department of Energy said the 55-gallon (208-liter) barrel ruptured late Wednesday at the 890-square-mile (2,305-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the nation's top federal nuclear research labs.
The rupture triggered a fire alarm, and three Idaho National Laboratory firefighters extinguished the smoldering barrel and pulled it away from a dozen other barrels nearby. When the firefighters left the building, emergency workers detected a small amount of radioactive material on their skin, said department spokeswoman Danielle Miller.
The material was washed off the firefighters, who were taken to a nearby medical facility as a precaution, she said.