Three workers were Wednesday undergoing health checks after being exposed to a radioactive material while involved in the decommissioning of a nuclear reactor in Idaho.

Initial body scans on 16 employees potentially exposed to radioactive materials were completed Tuesday night, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) announced, with further follow-up lung scans conducted Wednesday on three workers.

At least two of those workers inhaled plutonium oxide at the Zero Power Physics Reactor, a facility located 38 miles from Idaho Falls that has been closed down since 1992, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The workers were packaging the material for transport to a Department of Energy facility in Nevada.

Plutonium oxide exposure externally is not a threat, the Statesman reported, but once in the bloodstream it can reach body organs where it can lodge for decades and continue to expose surrounding tissue to radiation and increase the risk of cancer.

INL said Wednesday that external monitoring showed there was no release to the environment and the public was never in danger.

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