(Image: Carl Stoiber)
A helicopter equipped with radiation detecting equipment has been used to scan almost 4000 hectares of the USA's Hanford nuclear reservation in search of radioactive rabbit droppings, according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The helicopter was able to map each of the slightly radioactive stools with GPS coordinates. Liquid wastes containing radioactive caesium and strontium salts were stored in underground tanks at Hanford, which rabbits routinely burrowed into. They developed an appetite for the radioactive salts, which resulted in slightly radioactive droppings. Dee Millikin, spokeswoman for CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co which is responsible for much of the environmental cleanup of central Hanford, said that the use of the helicopter - at a cost of some $300,000 - means that the droppings can be located and removed in a matter of days rather than the months that would have been needed for people to search for it on the ground.
The droppings will be put into landfill at the Hanford site. Hanford was a plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities that which played a pivotal role in US defence for more than 40 years starting. The site is now undergoing environmental cleanup managed by the DoE.