Environment News Service

PADUCAH SAFETY SHUTDOWN FINDS NO MAJOR PROBLEMS

During a 24 hour safety shutdown at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Paducah, Kentucky, uranium plant, DOE officials found "no imminent hazards" to the health and safety of DOE and contractor workers. However, they did note some deficiencies in plant postings identifying sources of radiological and chemical contamination.

Managers from contractor Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC and the DOE also noted that employees were interested in more information on radiation monitoring programs, including air sampling programs and the use of personal dosimeters. "I ordered the stand down as part of my commitment to environment, safety and health at all our facilities," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "The stand down served to refocus attention on safety, to ensure that established procedures are well understood and are being followed and to give employees an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns."

After reports that thousands of workers at Paducah had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation from plutonium and other radioactive materials, the DOE wanted to ensure that potential hazards at Paducah were identified and posted, and that controls were in place to protect workers. "The stand down has been a useful experience for the DOE and contractor workers associated with our environmental management and safety programs at the Paducah site," said George Benedict, assistant manager for uranium and engineering services, DOE Oak Ridge Operations Office. "We found areas for improvement, but also learned that employees appreciate and understand their key role in safety."

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