Uranium Leaks At Oak Ridge Plant Were Avoidable, Official Says

Oak Ridge, Anderson County (AP) -- A federal spokesman says two spills of enriched uranium solution that forced the shutdown of a portion of the uranium-recycling processes at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant in Oak Ridge could have been avoided.

Steve Wyatt of the National Nuclear Security Administration told the Knoxville News Sentinel the spills wouldn't have occurred if the system had been "properly maintained and aligned."

The first spill involving more than two gallons of enriched uranium solution was discovered on February sixth during a routine inspection. A second spill of about eight ounces was reported a week later in the same area. No workers were contaminated.

The solution came from storage tanks that were known to leak when liquids reached flange gaskets at the top of the tanks. Work rules called for the tank levels to be kept below those flanges as a precaution.

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