The Paducah Sun

October 14, 1999

Final 3 test results show no tritium in workers

Staff report

Test results of the three remaining health physics technicians at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant were the same as those of four other workers: no tritium in their bodies.

Elizabeth Stuckle, spokeswoman for USEC Inc., the plant operator, said the final results were received Wednesday morning. "It was as we expected," she said from USEC headquarters in Bethesda, Md.

Seven workers were tested last week after a plant employee notified USEC that tritium was discovered in April in the urine of a man who had left the Paducah plant to work at another nuclear facility.

Stuckle said there is no evidence that tritium, an isotope of hydrogen with low-grade radioactivity, was ever used at the Paducah plant. However, she said the seven workers were tested as a matter of precaution because they worked in the same areas as the former employee.

Tritium is used in the making of nuclear weapons but also commercial market in self-illuminating devices such at watches, signs and night scopes on guns. The level of tritium found in the former worker was below federal limits and was not a concern of officials at the other nuclear facility, sources have told the Sun.

Stuckle said USEC has no idea how the man became contaminated but she is sure it didn't happen at the Paducah plant.

She said the man has not responded to USEC's efforts to help track down the source.