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Y-12: No injuries or contamination reported after fire at uranium processing building

According to Y-12, the incident is not impacting the public or anything outside the site.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Y-12 National Security Complex said it is back to normal operations after responding to a fire at a uranium processing building.

Y-12 initially said it was responding to an "incident," saying it began around 9:14 a.m. Wednesday. It later said the incident was a fire that started in the hood of one of its uranium processing buildings. No contamination has been reported and crews said the fire is contained to the processing equipment. 

The NNSA said a metal form of uranium was involved in the fire. 

Oak Ridge City Councilwoman Ellen Smith studied radioactivity and its environmental impacts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

She said the metal form of Uranium they worked with at Y-12 is likely low in radioactivity and catches on fire easily. 

"Uranium metal catches on fire very easily because of its chemistry," Smith said. "It's basically Uranium-238, which is one isotope of uranium that is extremely long-lived." 

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the fire is not impacting the public or anything outside of Y-12. No employees were injured and everyone has been accounted for, according to federal authorities.

Authorities at Y-12 said its radioactivity alarms did not go off, which they said is a positive sign that harmful radiation did not escape the processing equipment during the fire. 

"Appropriate precautionary protective actions have been initiated for Y-12 employees who are in the vicinity of the incident and who are not involved in the emergency response. At this time, there is no off-site impact to the public as a result of the incident," the NNSA said.

The Anderson County Sheriff's Office said it could confirm crews were dispatched to respond to a fire.

According to representatives with the NNSA and Y-12's operator, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, the fire broke out at one of Y-12's oldest uranium processing facilities on the western portion of the reservation -- Building 9212. 

Authorities said a few hundred employees had to be evacuated from the building and nearby buildings, saying they have accounted for everyone as of noon. 

CNS said there are no reports of anyone being hurt in the fire, saying it was not impacting anything in the community outside of Y-12. Federal authorities said the investigation into the fire is ongoing and they are trying to figure out the timeline of what happened.

"Let me emphasize: There are no off-site impacts as a result of this situation that occurred earlier this morning," Gene Patterson with CNS said.

As of 11:30 a.m., authorities said the evacuation order at Y-12 was still in place for the immediate area around the fire and that the area surrounding the building was under a curfew. As of 1 p.m., Y-12 said the curfew was lifted and shifts could report on time.

The city of Oak Ridge said it was on standby, saying there was no threat to the community. The Roane County Emergency Management Agency said it had a partial emergency operations center activated and was monitoring the situation until the all-clear was given.

The NNSA said more information would be provided on Y-12's social media accounts. Y-12 said it created a hotline at (865) 576-0038 to address the incident. 

Y-12 is one of the major nuclear material storage and processing sites in the U.S. and is operated by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC.

Building 9212 was built back in November 1945 and has been modified many times over the decades to support nuclear weapon production. 

U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-Oak Ridge) said he is monitoring the situation and is in touch with the NNSA.

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