Cause of Y-12 fire released
The entire fire was contained within a one-square-foot space under a filtered hood.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials with Y-12 have released the reason behind the fire on Feb. 22.
Previous Coverage: No offsite impact after uranium fire breaks out at Y-12, officials say
Chips of uranium metal from machining activity had been processed for storage, and Y-12 representative Kathryn King said this was in accordance with the standard operating procedure.
The metal underwent rapid exothermic oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that happens when some elements are exposed to oxygen in the air. The atoms in the uranium react with the oxygen, which then releases a large amount of energy in the form of light and heat, which was the fire. This is a known hazard when dealing with uranium that crews were aware of and had prepared for.
The entire fire was contained within a one-square-foot space under a filtered hood. The area was designed for work with radioactive objects and had proper controls, including protective equipment in place, King said.
Petroleum coke was used to extinguish the flames, but the fire did not go out immediately. King said the Y-12 Fire Department was called. The building was evacuated, and out of precaution, officials declared an emergency. Fire crews applied additional petroleum coke to completely stop the fire.
There were no injuries, and officials were quick to assure the public that there was no impact offsite.
King shared the following statement when the cause was released.
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