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Earth

Researchers Race To Recover Radioactive Rabbits 145

Ponca City writes "The Tri-City Herald reports that radioactive rabbit droppings were recently found near the old Hanford Nuclear Site in southeast Washington that produced nuclear materials for 40 years and is now being decontaminated. The Department of Health looks for contamination off-site to make sure there is no public hazard and a rabbit trapped at the 300 Area caught their attention because it was close enough to the site's boundaries to potentially come in contact with the public. Joe Franco, an assistant manager for the Department of Energy, said workers erected fences, removed potential food sources and even sprayed the scent of a predator around the perimeter to prevent any other rabbit contamination and the Department of Energy said only one of 18 rabbits surveyed were deemed contaminated. Researchers narrowed the area of possible contamination to the 327 Building used during the Cold War for testing highly radioactive materials, particularly fuel elements and cladding that were irradiated at Hanford reactors as part of plutonium production for the nation's nuclear weapons program. Because the number of contaminated droppings being discovered on-site has decreased, officials now believe it's possible that just one rabbit might have been contaminated and they now are finding old droppings from it."

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