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 Environment ENS --
Environment News Service

AmeriScan: January 11, 2001

PADUCAH RADIATION STUDY RELEASED

PADUCAH, Kentucky, January 11, 2001 (ENS) - The Energy Department has released a study of possible past radiation exposures to workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky. The study was prepared for the department by researchers at the University of Utah and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union.

"This report identifies the type of work which, in the past, posed the greatest risk to Paducah workers," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "It will serve as a basis for further study to ensure that workers made sick at Paducah get the compensation they deserve."

The study concluded that from 1952 to 1991, an estimated 2,500 to 4,000 employees worked in areas which increased their potential radiation exposure beyond that expected for workers elsewhere at the nuclear weapons plant. These highest risk areas included the Feed Plant, the Decontamination Building, the Metals Building and the Cascade Buildings.

The tasks which had the most potential for increased exposure included ash handling, cylinder heels cleaning, derbies processing, pulverizer operation, flange grinding and baghouse filter changing, the report says.

Richardson said the study will help focus future health studies by identifying the job types, locations and time period that could have posed the highest risk. The study did not attempt to estimate doses for individual workers.

While all types of possible radiation exposures were considered in the study, particular attention was given to potential exposures to transuranic elements, including neptunium and plutonium. Current practices at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant keep worker exposures well below historic levels.

A public meeting on the study will be held on February 1, 2001, in Paducah. Representatives of the University of Utah, Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union and DOE will be available to respond to workers and interested citizens.

The study results are available at: http://tis.eh.doe.gov

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