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No fine for LANL after contamination incident

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Lab > Report says 30 workers were affected

The Los Alamos National Laboratory will not be fined by the Department of Energy’s Office of Enforcement after a contamination incident at the Neutron Science Center last year.

According to a federal report, 30 workers were contaminated with radioactive Technetium-99 in an incident last August.

According to a letter sent to Lab Director Charlie McMillan from the DOE Office of Enforcement, LANS identified beta contamination at the LANSCE Luján Center and adjoining building 622. The highest contamination levels were found at the Luján Center, inside experimental area room ER-1, with levels exceeding 240 million disintegrations per minute (dpm) per I00 cm 2 (i.e., the maximum reading for the measurement device used).

Offsite, at least nine homes were found with beta contamination, at levels up to 64,000 dpm. Five employees were identified with skin contamination at levels up to 16,800 dpm, and 25 employees had contaminated personal clothing and items with levels up to 980,000 dpm.

The federal accident investigation called the contamination completely preventable and described a culture of lax adherence to typical safety procedures at the lab’s Neutron Science Center, where a technician unknowingly reused a canister that had contained radioactive Technetium-99, triggering the contamination.


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