Facility & Company Information > Region I (North East)

Spru Incident

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Brett LaVigne:

--- Quote from: TENN-1 on Dec 11, 2010, 02:55 ---Oh my, here comes the negative Karma. 

I too agree with Brett, BUT, there is a limit to which that drum can be beat.  We have all seen the technician, and I have played the part too, where work is stopped unnecessarily in the name of "Radiological Safety" forcing a delay which eventually costs everyone dose. Remember, by definition the ALARA mantra carries the "as low as reasonably achievable" not "as low as possible".   While I don't know much about the evils of alpha I do know a little about the dose vs. schedule.  In my experience shutting the airlock door early by shortening the outage has had as much an impact on overall exposure and safety as any one single item.  There are times when letting the outage horse run between the curbs is appropriate and stopping work for the sake of stopping work causes more headaches then solutions.  Knowledge and power: it's a delicate balance.  If anyone figures it out - please share.

--- End quote ---

When you are playing the CO-60 game, the consequences are much less. On sites like mine, where the isotopes of concern are heavy bone seekers (Am-241, Pu-239), you don't get a second chance. The amount it takes in the air to over expose someone is shockingly small compared to CO-60, remember that your body doesn't get rid of Am-241 and Pu-239, you get to keep it forever. We created 10 DAC by simply walking 4 feet across a small cubicle that had 2k dpm/100cm2 general area Alpha contamination levels. There was an incident at another facility here in CA where someone got 42 REM of exposure to the surface of the bones, 2.4 REM TEDE and the biggest alpha number in the report was 606 dpm/100cm2 Alpha! It is a much different game with much bigger consequences. I am more production oriented in a normal outage scenario where you have your normal corrosion products to deal with. On my site, we have very little Gamma exposure to control. There is going to be some risk in the work that we do, but it has to be minimized 100 fold compared to a beta/gamma plant. To me, where I am ok with a small uptake in the name of ALARA during an outage, there is no scenario that I can think of on a site like mine where the ALARA thing to do would be to allow an uptake of any kind. There is no schedule in the world that is important enough to take the risk of a potentially lethal or life shortening exposure.

I didn't fully understand these things until I got here a couple of years ago. This report was near and dear to my heart because I am planning the demo of a really big outdoor tank that has similar numbers. We are going to build a well engineered building around it and take it apart using fixatives and very non-aggressive cutting methods. PAPR protection for everyone! Originally the project (mostly operating commercial plant experience) wanted to open air demo it just like they did in this report. My way will take a much larger budget and a lot more time...and there is simply no other choice.

When you have to say oh chit, it's to late, and you have to deal with it. I really feel for those folks..


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