SEATTLE, April 8 Washington state's only
nuclear power plant briefly evacuated about 25 workers after a
small amount of hydrogen sprang from a pipe and ignited in a
six-inch (15.5 cm) flash, plant officials said on Friday.
The incident at the Columbia Generating Station late on
Thursday afternoon resulted in no injuries or equipment damage,
they said. Workers are now back.
"It was like a little flash, like what you would see when
lighting a barbecue," said Rochelle Olson, spokeswoman for the
plant which is operated by Energy Northwest.
The nuclear reactor at the plant was shut down at the time
for routine maintenance and refueling.
The plant, in Richland, Washington, about 210 miles (338
km) southeast of Seattle, said the incident occurred in the
main turbine building.
Workers were cutting a pipe after closing and purging it,
when a small amount of residual trapped hydrogen gas was
released and ignited, officials said in a statement, describing
the release as a "less-than-one-second puff."
"It's such a minor event that it wouldn't be reported in
any other industry," Olson added.
(Reporting by Laura L. Myers; editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and