Radioactive wasps discovered at Manhattan Project nuclear site
The Manhatten Project nuclear site workers have to deal with an unusual problem in their clean up of the site, radioactive wasp nests.
The nests were built by mud dauber wasps, but most were abandoned in 2003. It was then that workers started covering the cleaned-up wasts with topsoil and plants, and unknowingly created the perfect cover for insects to build their nests.
Today, the thousands of nests are fairly highly contaminated with radioactive isotopes like cesium and cobalt, but are said to not pose much of a threat to workers having to now dig them up.
"You don't know what you're going to run into, and this is probably one of the more unusual situations," said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure Hanford, the contractor hired to clean up the area under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The wasps built their nests mostly around the H reactor and used mud from a storage basin that used to hold irradiated nuclear fuel.
The site produced plutonium for the first atomic blast and for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II, and plutonium production continued through the Cold War.
The workers started digging up the nests a few weeks ago and they use excavators, which have enclosed cabs, so they are not required to wear protective clothing.
No word yet on whether there has been a radioactive wasp attack or not.
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North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada