Radioactive bunny near Hanford boundary

05 November 2010

Radioactive rabbit droppings were found last week at an area close to the boundary of the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington State, the Tri-City Herald reported. Several rabbits were trapped in the area, not far from the city of Richland, and one of them was found to be contaminated internally with radioactive caesium, a spokesman for Washington State's Department of Health said. No further contaminated droppings were subsequently found in the area, suggesting that just the one rabbit was responsible for the radioactive deposits. One theory is that the rabbit had been drinking water that had collected in the basement of a nearby research building that was being demolished. Workers have now erected a chain-link fence and sprayed fox urine around the building to deter animals there. Hanford was a plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities that played a pivotal role in US defence for more than 40 years. 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. The site is now undergoing environmental cleanup managed by the Department of Energy.