Thursday, August 11, 2005

Los Alamos lab incident sends worker to hospital Report hints at problems with ventilation system

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Thursday, August 11, 2005

n the second reported major incident in recent days of mishandled hazardous materials at University of California-run Los Alamos National Laboratory, a lab employee was hospitalized for six days with "pneumonia-like symptoms" after inhaling dangerous fumes.

Another employee suffered temporary shortness of breath after exposure to what an in-house investigative report at Los Alamos called "hazardous chemical vapors," but was not seriously hurt.

The incident, which occurred June 16 but was not investigated by the New Mexico lab until Aug. 3, is still under scrutiny by lab officials. One employee has been placed on leave pending its resolution, lab officials said.

The investigative report hinted that something was wrong with the lab's ventilation system, which it called "degraded," but no further details were available Wednesday.

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