ERWIN — Nuclear Fuel Services officials have given their approval to resume full operations at the facility, a process that began Tuesday, according to NFS Communications Manager Lauri Turpin.
Operations on some process areas were temporarily halted after a Monday afternoon chemical leak. According to a release issued by NFS, a nitric acid leak occurred in an outdoor chemical storage area around noon.
According to the release, facility operations were under a “safe shutdown” following the incident. Employees working in areas near the leak were redirected to another NFS facility, and two employees were seen by NFS medical staff and released, the release said. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
According to an event report posted on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s website, NFS reported to the NRC that approximately 300 gallons of nitric acid spilled in the bulk chemical storage outdoor area from a storage tank. The acid was collected by a dike that surrounds the tank. The leak was isolated and it is believed no acid breached the dike and entered the environment, the event report states.
“NFS safety systems performed as designed, successfully containing the leak in a dike surrounding the bulk chemical storage area,” a Tuesday email from Turpin said. The liquid was removed from the dike area and transferred to recovery containers.”
Unicoi County’s emergency management officer and an emergency response specialist from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were both present at the scene and participated in the NFS Operations Center, Turpin said.
Turpin also said facility operations were authorized to restart by the NFS director of quality, safety and safeguards Monday evening.
“Our operations have been released to restart and we’re in the process of restarting everything,” Turpin said Tuesday afternoon.
The leak’s cause is still being investigated, Turpin said.