2 Spills Force Uranium Processing Shutdown at Nuclear Weapons Plant

Oak Ridge, Anderson County (AP) -- An official for an Energy Department contractor at Oak Ridge says two spills of enriched uranium solution forced the shutdown of a uranium-recycling process at the nuclear weapons plant.

BWXT spokesman Bill Wilburn says no workers were contaminated.

The processing work at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant will remain on hold until officials can determine why the solution leaked from a storage tank inside the plant.

This is one of six chemical processes Y-12 uses in recycling highly enriched uranium, a key material in nuclear warheads.

The first spill involved more than two gallons of enriched uranium solution. It was discovered February sixth during a routine inspection. A second spill of about eight ounces was reported a week later in the same area.

Y-12 makes parts for every nuclear warhead in the US arsenal and also is the nation's primary storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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