‘No measurable exposure’

As noted in a recent post, there have been more than 50 “events” in which radioactive materials were uncovered during the site preparation for the Uranium Processing Facility over the past couple of years, including a big piece of rad metal discovered on March 9. A government spokesman said the discoveries were an “anticipated project risk” at the old nuclear site.

Asked for some context on the hazards of the radioactive materials recently found buried at the site, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Steven Wyatt provided this response by email:

“No measurable exposure was received by personnel who worked to dispose of the material found during the excavation work March 9. This contamination was fixed to the metal, and the exposure rate from the metal was not distinguishable from natural background at a distance of a few feet. The material had a reading that showed activity roughly equivalent to that found in three household smoke detectors.”

According to the official occurrence report filed with the Department of Energy, the piece of metal uncovered last month was monitored for radiation levels, with total beta-gamma activity measured at 56,665 disintegrations per minute per 100 square centimeters, and 2,457 DPM/100cm2 for total alpha activity.

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This entry was posted in CNS, UPF, uranium, Y-12 on by .

About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.