Three people treated at Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear facility after chemical spill

| 01.03,19. 11:12 AM |


Three people treated at Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear facility after chemical spill



Photo: Three people have been taken to Sutherland Hospital after a chemical spill. (ABC News: Philippa McDonald)


Three staff at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility have been decontaminated after being exposed to a chemical spill.


A spokesman for Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) said the workers were exposed to sodium hydroxide when a cap came off a pipe in the nuclear medicine manufacturing building.


NSW Ambulance said the chemical splashed onto the arms and faces of the two men and a woman who have all been taken to Sutherland Hospital for further assessment.


Sodium hydroxide is highly toxic, and can cause severe burns.


The ANSTO spokesman said the building where the incident occurred is not associated with the nuclear reactor.


"Before 8am this morning, a cap came off a pipe resulting in a spill of around 250ml of sodium hydroxide," he said in a statement.


"Three staff members were involved. Emergency services attended ANSTO and the three staff members involved have been taken to hospital for observation.


"The incident occurred in a nuclear medicine manufacturing building that is not associated with the OPAL nuclear reactor.


"More information will be provided later today."


Contamination scares


The Lucas Heights facility, about 40 kilometres south of the Sydney CBD, has had several contamination scares in recent years.


In August 2017 a worker suffered blisters on his hands after he dropped a vial of radioactive material and was contaminated through two pairs of gloves.


The event was deemed the most serious in the world in 2017, according to the International Nuclear Event Scale — the global grading system for nuclear incidents.


ANSTO apologised to the worker who was exposed to the radioactive material and produced an "action plan", in response.


An independent review of the facility was conducted in October 2018 and found that it failed modern nuclear safety standards and should be replaced.


In the same week ANSTO confirmed five workers had received a dose of radiation at the facility, but that the amount of radiation was "less than a chest X-ray".


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