‘Nuclear material safe’ after potential chemical leak at national nuclear facility

‘Nuclear material safe’ after potential chemical leak at national nuclear facility
The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. Thursday after sensors indicated a potential release of hydrogen fluoride.

OAK RIDGE, TN (WVLT/Gray News) - All nuclear material is safe and employees are going back to work as normal after authorities with the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, said there was a chemical leak Thursday morning.

The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. Thursday after sensors indicated a potential release of hydrogen fluoride. No one was hurt, and evacuees were relocated to another building at Y-12 until emergency workers declared the area safe.

A statement from Y-12 said there was no impact to the public in the area of the complex as a result of the potential leak.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hydrogen fluoride is a liquid or gas chemical that creates strong fumes and can cause severe burns on contact. Breathing in the chemical can cause heart and lung problems.

However, hydrogen fluoride is safe in small amounts. Traces are found in the air, and it is added to tap water for dental health.

Y-12 officials hosted a news brief to address the chemical leak. They said the leak was completely contained inside an enclosure. Employees were not exposed and the public was not in danger.

They said the enclosure where the leak happened was about as big as a walk-in closet. Its purpose is to keep workers safe from danger in the event of a leak.

Sensors inside the enclosure measure chemicals at parts per million and alerted staff to the leak.

It is not clear exactly how much of the chemical was released.

Operations resumed as normal at the Y-12 plant just before 10 a.m.

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