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Idaho lab accident may stem from damaged container

Idaho lab says damaged container likely led to plutonium accident that exposed 16 workers By The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) ' Decades-old plutonium powder that escaped its damaged shell is the main suspect behind a serious incident at the Idaho National Laboratory that exposed 16 workers to potentially harmful radiation.

U.S. Department of Energy officials and private contractors said Wednesday they're closely monitoring two workers at the lab in the eastern Idaho desert who had radioactive material in their lungs.

All 16 employees went home following the incident Tuesday, but they've returned to the lab's medical facilities for additional monitoring and treatment.

Lab health director Sharon Dossett says none of the exposed workers are exhibiting outward symptoms of radiological exposure, so far.

Deputy lab director David Hill suspects stainless steel cladding that surrounded plutonium fuel from the 1970s was damaged, beginning a slow-but-steady process of plutonium oxidation that led to the exposure.

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