Federal nuclear officials have sought information from an eastern Idaho company, after a worker was exposed to radiation in a safety mishap. The worker received a radiation dose that is estimated to the maximum allowable in an entire year.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a formal letter to International Isotopes Inc. in Idaho falls, confirming some measures before it can resume operations following the August 20 incident. The company manufactures radioactive products for research, cancer treatment and industry. Steve Laflin, CEO and president of the company said that they are aggressively going from top to bottom to make sure we have appropriate steps in place.
“This is an instance where the individual had a cognitive error – just lost awareness of what they were doing,” said Laflin.
The radiation was exposed to the worker’s hand, and the company had revised the estimate to a lower level than the maximum dose limit, set by federal officials. The worker is a senior technician, with a decade of experience. When he was using an instrument to remove cobalt from a container, it became stuck and unstuck, and he fell to the floor. The 40-pound object was difficult to control, and he was exposed to radiation briefly. Federal officials will verify the accuracy of the company’s calculations.
Victor Dricks, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman said the agency would impose certain conditions for the company to continue work, but it is unlikely it would be fined. Dricks added that a follow-up would be carried out, but he wasn’t sure when it would happen. The worker would not be in danger of exposing people, and won’t face any long-term impairment or injury due to the exposure. International Isotopes employs about 25 workers and they had a good safety record until Aug. 20., said Laflin in the report.