Feds to clean site of 1976 'Atomic Man' accident

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Workers are preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation In Washington state, the facility that made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades.

The room was the site of a 1976 blast that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation, which led to him being nicknamed the "Atomic Man."

Harold McCluskey was working in the room when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode, exposing him to 500 times the occupational standard. McCluskey had to be removed by remote control and taken to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank.

It took five months to extract tiny bits of radioactive glass and metal from his skin with daily total body shavings and scrubbings. The exposure took its toll on his health, including four heart attacks.

The space now dubbed the McCluskey Room is located inside the closed Plutonium Finishing Plant and is scheduled for cleanup this summer.

APPHOTO NY123: FILE - This Aug. 25, 1980 file photo shows Harold McCluskey in Richland, Wash. In 1976, an explosion in a room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation exposed him to a massive dose of radiation, leading to his nickname as the "Atomic Man." McCluskey lived for 11 more years and died of causes not related to the accident. In 2014, preparations are underway for a September 2016 demolition of the plant. (AP Photo) (25 Aug 1980)

<<APPHOTO NY123 (08/25/80)££

Sound: upcoming