Tough Job: Radioactive Rabbit Dropping Hunter

In central Washington near the Hanford nuclear production complex, a radioactive rabbit trapped by workers sent health department officials scurrying into the field to search for radioactive rabbit turd. They needed to make sure that any cesium-doped droppings wouldn't reach areas into which people might wander.

The beginning of a Denis Johnson-Don DeLillo collaboration? No, it actually happened yesterday:

Department of Health workers were using handheld instruments to search for radioactive droppings on Thursday, looking for "polite rabbits," Fordham said.

Rabbit droppings are more likely to be found hidden under bushes than out in the open, such as on roads that the public can drive on north of Richland. The farthest droppings have been found from the 327 Building is about 100 yards to the south, which still is within an area closed to the public. Hanford has an extensive program to check for contaminated animals.

In 2009, 33 contaminated animals or animal materials such as droppings were found on the site. In Hanford's earlier years, contaminated animals were more common. Liquid waste with radioactive salts was discharged into the ground near central Hanford during the Cold War. Rabbits and other animals were attracted to the salts and spread radioactive droppings across as much as 13.7 square miles of sage-covered land before the waste sites were sealed to keep out animals in 1969.

Read the full story at Tri-City Herald.

Thanks to Steve Silberman for, as always, being all over the important news.

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