Mo reactor inspected after fueling accidentgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Story ran on April 14, 2000
NRC inspects reactor after fueling accident
By JOE MOORE of the Tribunes staff
Radiation was released during an accident Wednesday at the MU Research Reactor when a fuel element for the reactor core was temporarily stored in an unshielded area, reactor officials said today.
Acting reactor director Ken Brooks said no one was exposed to the radiation.
Officials said a 3-by-3-foot beam of radiation hit a concrete wall for three minutes before the fuel element containing uranium was placed in a shielded area.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors from Washington, D.C., examined the MU Reactor this morning. Reactor spokeswoman Tamara Crockett said the inspection would be done by this afternoon and a report will be filed in 30 to 45 days.
The NRC inspectors were not available for comment this morning.
Crockett said reactor officials reported the accident to the NRC within "a couple of hours."
The NRC has four levels of intensity for nuclear accidents, but Crockett said the level of the Wednesday release was undetermined.
The accident occurred about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when a fuel element was removed from the reactor core and placed in a basket in a deeper section of the reactor pool. Brooks said the basket is normally a safe place to put radioactive material. But 239 concrete bricks that normally act as a shield had been removed in a separate maintenance activity. The shielding had been removed for more than two days.
A radiation dose of 10 rem in the part of the reactor affected by the accident escaped for three minutes before employees moved the fuel element and replaced the bricks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration allows no more than five rem of exposure during a single year. Crockett said that all check-in logs show that no employee was on the floor during that time.
Crockett noted that an employee would have had to stand in front of the beam for the full three minutes to receive the entire dose.
"A CAT scan is easily five to 10 rem," she said.
MU vice provost for research Jack Burn said it remained unclear where communications broke down. "Were going to get to the bottom of that by the end of the day," he said, adding that changes in procedure have been made.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 14, 2000