By Josh Howald
Binder and the board questioned why Bruce Power would not have learned from a similar situation that occurred at the Point LePreau Nuclear Generating Station less than two years ago.
It also came out that as many as 583 people may have had contact with alpha radiation in the vault of Bruce A, Unit 1. A total of 195 people are being tested for alpha radiation contamination.
Bruce Power staff was on hand to ask the CNSC to give testing accreditation to at least one American nuclear facility to speed up the testing process. Right now, the only Canadian site qualified to test for alpha radiation is in
Representing Bruce Power at the hearing was Norm Sawyer, executive vice-president of Bruce A; Frank Saunders, vice president of nuclear oversight regulatory affairs; and Maureen McQueen, manager of radiation protection programs.
The trio gave a report on the incident and received some tough questions from the CNSC.
Bruce Power was monitoring for BETA radiation. The normal BETA to alpha radiation count is 10,000 to 1. Tests revealed the level in Unit 1 was as high as 7 to 1. There was no monitoring of alpha radiation, as the two are generally related. The unexpected high reading understandably caused concern.
At Thursday’s hearing, Bruce Power execs vowed to implement better monitoring devices and testing for its staff.
On Nov. 24, workers began preparing feeder tubes for a weld. The workers were using negative suction (like a vacuum) to dispose of the dust created by the cutting of the pipes. The pipes contained wet contamination of loose particulate: so the area was tented. However, particulate dust escaped the tent and affected the whole building. Therefore, workers were contaminated on the way in and out of the vault as they suited up and down.
Bruce Power officials explained the alpha radiation was unexpected. No alpha radiation monitors were in use. They have since been acquired and put into use at the plant.
Work in the vault ceased on Nov. 28, and has yet to restart.
Bruce Power sent the tests for 19 workers to the
Of those initial 19 directly affected, 14 results have come back in line with the company’s prediction that they would be under the regulatory limits of alpha radiation. The highest dosage was 20.6mSv, while the low dosage was 11.5 mSv.
The maximum dose acceptable for nuclear workers is 100mSv (10,000 mrem) over a five-year period, with no more than 50mSv in any given year.
Alpha radiation cannot penetrate the skin, but may be dangerous if inhaled or exposed to an open wound. It can cause radiation poisoning and chromosome damage.
Sawyer told the CNSC that each worker that has been tested will be met with one-on-one to discuss the results and how the testing was done. He also mentioned that independent testing will be done to give the workers peace of mind, which Bruce Power rep John Peevers confirmed over the phone Thursday afternoon.
Binder said that while he is confident that no workers will be physically harmed from the incident, there is still damage done from “perceived radiation.” He urged Bruce Power to make the results of the testing public as they come in through its website and the media, and is looking forward to seeing a final report on the incident, which is due to the CNSC in the next 45 days.