WA, OR Preparing For Worst Case Nuclear Disaster In Ukraine

In this May 7, 2013 photo released by Idaho National Laboratory, nuclear operations professional personnel work above the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory's desert site about 50 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The small cylindrical section in the center of the platform has access ports that allow access to the reactor core for refueling and experiment loading and unloading during routine outages. The platform, a layer of shield blocks totalling more than 150,000 lbs, and then the 62,000-lb reactor vessel top head are temporarily removed in order to complete the ATR core overhaul. CREDIT: Idaho National Laboratory via AP
Washington and Oregon are preparing for any potential nuclear event triggered by the Ukrainian conflict AP Photo



Northwest officials are preparing in case a radiological event should occur anywhere in the world. Their task would be to detect it, understand what it is and where it came from and tell the public how to respond. 

Here are the worrisome scenarios – a radioactive release from Ukraine’s damaged Chernobyl waste site, which Russian troops now occupy. Or worse, a nuclear bomb.

Officials in Oregon and Washington are at a heightened level of readiness.

Mark Henry leads the Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response team of the Washington State Department of Health. He says some of the ways they are preparing: supplies, radioactive contamination survey instrumentation, and air samplers.

“When I’m talking supplies, I’m talking smears for actually taking deposition samples, I’m talking containers for milk samples or water samples …,” Henry said. 

Henry says about 75 people at Washington’s Department of Health specialize in radiological problems.

Related Stories: