Environment
2:29 am
Mon November 8, 2010

The Case of the Radioactive Rabbit

A radioactively contaminated rabbit has been caught and killed on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland in southeast Washington.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that's not unusual. Last year the agency caught 33 contaminated animals. But this rabbit was unusually close to workers and the public.

The bunny was found just a few miles outside of the city of Richland in Hanford's 300 Area. Todd Nelson is a spokesman for one of the federal contractors that clean up Hanford. He downplayed the incident.

"We have teams out there all the time that are monitoring. And in this particular case the material that we collected was all within a 100 yards of the potential source.  It was easily cleaned up, easily contained and very localized," Nelson said.

That "material" is contaminated rabbit droppings found on Oct. 14th. The theory is that the rabbit made an unfortunate decision to drink water out of puddles near or in a contaminated building that's being torn down.

In the past, contaminated mice were found after infiltrating a Hanford food bank, according the Associated Press. Even insects have been under scrutinyfor possible radioactivity in recent years.