Workers are collecting samples along the Columbia River in Washington state to test for contaminants linked to past production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.
"After the sampling we'll know where and what the contaminants are and who or what might be exposed to them," said Jamie Zeisloft, who's leading the testing for the Department of Energy.
The data collected from the new sampling along 120 miles of the river near Hanford will be combined with extensive data from sampling done for decades on the Columbia to produce a more complete estimate of the potential health risks to people, animals and plants.
The results could lead to changes in cleanup plans to control or reduce the risk of exposure. Results will be used to help make the final cleanup decisions for Hanford land along the river, where cleanup is expected to largely be completed by 2015.
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