SAFETY JEOPARDIZED


HERE IS A LISTING OF SAFETY PROBLEMS AT FERNALD SINCE JAN. 1, 1993; THE DATE THEY OCCURRED; AND WHETHER THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT DETERMINED FERMCO MANAGEMENT WAS AT FAULT. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME MOST OF THESE INCIDENTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED PUBLICLY.

CRITICALITY INCIDENTS


(Criticality occurs when nuclear wastes are placed too closely together, which could result in a nuclear chain reaction and explosion)

Sept. 22, 1993 - Eighteen 30-gallon drums containing nuclear material placed too closely together. Root cause: management problem.

Feb. 25, 1994 - Enriched nuclear material was stored in containers in Plant 4 that had identifying labels that were severely damaged so they were not legible. Direct cause: management problem.

March 3, 1994 - Nuclear material placed too closely together at Plant 5. Direct cause: management problem.

March 23, 1994 - (two incidents) Nuclear material placed too closely together on upper floors of Plant 4. Direct cause: management problem.

Sept. 30, 1994 - A solid red 55-gallon drum filled with seven gallons of a liquid with an unknown level of radioactive concentration and enrichment was improperly placed on a Plant 1 pad. Root cause: management problem.

Oct. 7, 1994 - Solid red drums (storage containers for enriched - restricted nuclear material) were stored next to other waste drums which blocked a radioactive monitor alarm. Direct cause: management problem.

June 13, 1995 - About 40 55-gallon drums containing nuclear material were improperly stored in Building 77. Root cause: management problem.

CONTAMINATION INCIDENTS


Here are 78 incidents since Jan. 1, 1993 where Fernald workers or their personal clothing were contaminated with radiation despite the fact that, in most incidents, they were wearing company-issued protective clothing. This list also includes incidents of radioactive contamination in unsecured locations. Because of a privacy exemption, the reports do not reveal the identities of the workers or their medical conditions.

Findings by the U.S. Department of Energy that a ''management problem'' was to blame for an incident include such things as inadequate administrative controls and failure to teach or enforce safety policies. A finding of ''equipment - material problem'' usually means an employee's protective clothing didn't prevent radioactive contamination. Radiation contamination is considered one of the most serious incidents at a nuclear site.

Jan. 8, 1993 - A subcontractor worker's jacket was contaminated with radiation although the worker spent the day in a ''Controlled (Radioactive) Area'' and performed no ''hands-on'' work. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Jan. 13, 1993 - A worker's coveralls were contaminated with radiation after the worker moved materials from Building 72 to Building 71 while wearing only protective gloves and boot covers. Direct cause: management problem.

Jan. 15, 1993 - Radioactive-contaminated soil was discovered near the Administrative Area. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Feb. 4, 1993 - A worker's pants were contaminated with radiation after he worked as a machinist in the Maintenance Building, although he was wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Feb. 5, 1993 - A worker's shoes were contaminated with radiation after he worked in the Pilot Vitrification Plant to turn a valve although he was wearing protective boot covers. Direct cause: personnel error.

Feb. 9, 1993 - Radioactive contamination was found in the installed carpet of a former maintenance trailer in the Administrative Area. The trailer was being turned into office space. Direct cause: management problem.

Feb. 11, 1993 - Radioactive contamination was found on the trailer of a flatbed truck delivering two refurbished Sea-Land containers from the Carolina Container Corp. in Charleston, S.C. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

March 1, 1993 - A subcontractor worker's boots and coveralls were found to be contaminated with radiation after he finished welding in a construction area by Plant 9, although he was wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

March 2, 1993 - Radioactive contamination was found on the electrical cord of a small pump that was being stored in an off-site storage facility. Direct cause: management problem. March 3, 1993 - A worker's clothing was contaminated with radiation after the worker inspected and adjusted machinery around the K-65 Waste Storage Area, although protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: management problem.

March 5, 1993 - A worker's clothes were contaminated with radiation after he spread salt on walkways around Plant 1 and the Plant 1 Copper Pile. Direct cause: personnel error.

March 5, 1993 - Radioactive material was found in various locations inside the Maintenance Storage Building 11. The contaminated items included oil cans, two cabinets, a tray and several tools. Direct cause: management problem.

March 11, 1993 - Radioactive material was found spread on a table underneath a copying machine in the Administrative Area. Direct cause: management problem.

March 30, 1993 - A worker's hair was found contaminated with radiation after the person worked under a tank to repair a leaking flange. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: personnel error.

May 14, 1993 - Radioactive-contaminated materials were discovered in the Analytical Laboratory, despite earlier searches and removal of contaminated items. Direct cause: management problem.

May 22, 1993 - FERMCO employee's boots were found to be contaminated with radiation after he stepped in a tar-like substance improperly left by another employee. Direct cause: personnel error.

Aug. 12, 1993 - Radioactive contamination was found on a worker's T-shirt and pants after the person worked at a contaminated site, although protective clothing was worn. Root cause: management problem.

Aug. 16, 1993 - A worker's coveralls were found contaminated with radiation after he finished working in contaminated area. Direct cause: management problem.

Aug. 24, 1993 - A worker's boot was found contaminated with radiation after he worked on the Plant 1 Ore Silo Demolition Project. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: management problem.

Aug. 25, 1993 - A worker's leg and clothing were found contaminated with radiation after he worked at the Pilot Plant Tank Area. Protective clothing was worn. Root cause: management problem.

Aug. 27, 1993 - A worker's face was found contaminated with radiation after the worker moved radioactive drums and inventoried drums in Building 70. Direct cause: personnel error (worker admitted wiping face with gloved hand while in contaminated area).

Sept. 8, 1993 - A former Fernald employee who in 1973 purchased a school bus, wood and pipes that were used at Fernald asked to have the material now on his private property checked for radiation. Testing confirmed that the material was contaminated with radiation. Direct cause: (former) management problem.

Oct. 7, 1993 - A worker's clothing was found contaminated with radiation after he lost his work badge and was allowed to search his work area for it. Protective clothing was worn. A radioactive cobweb stuck to the worker's right knee was found to be the source of contamination. Direct cause: management problem.

Oct. 7, 1993 - Radiation contamination was found on the rear elastic band of a worker's underwear and also on the crotch of his sweatpants after he finished washing down the contaminated interior of Plant 7 with a high-pressure sprayer. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Oct. 28, 1993 - A subcontractor employee was allowed to take off and leave a work coat that was later found to be contaminated. The employee was allowed to leave and no one noted his name or where he was working. The employee may not have known he was wearing radioactive-contaminated clothing. Direct cause: personnel error.

Nov. 8, 1993 - A worker's shoe was found to be contaminated after the worker performed ''light work'' in Plant 4. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: defective or failed material.

Dec. 2, 1993 - A subcontractor employee's overalls were contaminated after the worker performed decontamination activities at the Plant 8 Williams Mill area. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: error in equipment or material selection. Contributing cause: management problem.

Dec. 15, 1993 - A worker's safety boots were contaminated with radiation after the worker inspected several Dumpsters around the site, although protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: management problem.

Dec. 20, 1993 - Two workers' skin and clothing were radioactively contaminated after an ampule of radioactive liquid leaked. They were wearing protective clothing. The workers handled materials contaminated by the leak before it was discovered. Direct cause: personnel error. Root cause: management problem.

Jan. 20, 1994 - A worker whose coat was found heavily contaminated was allowed to leave the site without anyone writing down his name, thus making it impossible to determine if he was in need of medical attention. According to the Occurrence Report of the incident, ''Due to the large number of (contamination) alarms . . . the (Radiological Control Technicians) could not remember the identity of the employee.'' Direct cause: personnel error. Contributing cause: management problem.

Jan. 21, 1994 - A container of leaking radioactive material was found in the Administrative Area. The container had burst due to ''extremely cold weather'' because the area's heater had failed. Direct cause: personnel error.

Jan. 31, 1994 - A worker's leg and clothing were contaminated with radiation after he stepped into a floor trench where someone had removed a cover grate. Although protective clothing was worn, hot radioactive water burned the worker. Direct cause: equipment - material problem. Root cause: management problem.

Feb. 24, 1994 - A worker's clothing was contaminated after he was given too-large overalls and the pant legs hung below his protective clothing and became contaminated from brushing along the radioactive floor. Direct cause: personnel error.

April 11, 1994 - A subcontractor employee's clothing was contaminated while the worker was performing demolition work on the fifth floor of Plant 7. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

April 14, 1994 - The coveralls a worker was wearing were found to be contaminated after the worker wrapped pipes in Plant 4, despite his wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

April 18, 1994 - Radioactive contaminated material was found in the bottom drawers of two file cabinets and also on a pipe fitting in the same room at the Advanced Waste Water Treatment facility. Direct cause: management problem.

May 23, 1994 - Hazardous waste spill (antifreeze) at the pilot vitrification plant. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

June 20, 1994 - Soil and gravel radiation contamination found outside a designated contamination area. Direct cause: weather. Contributing cause: management problem.

July 7, 1994 - A subcontractor employee's clothes were contaminated while the worker was welding in the Plant 2 - 3 Digestion Area. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: equipment - material problem. Root cause: management problem.

July 24, 1994 - A worker wearing boots with no protective clothing around them was told to paint the floor of Building 64, a ''Fixed Contamination Area.'' The employee stepped in wet paint, which caused a buildup of radioactive contamination. Direct cause: personnel error.

Aug. 3, 1994 - A pipe fitter accidentally cracked the bolts on a valve of a tank he was trying to remove piping from. The required nitrogen dioxide detector was not present. A greenish liquid in the lines squirted out and the employee suffered burning eyes and lungs. Direct cause: personnel error. Contributing cause: management problem.

Aug. 9, 1994 - A subcontractor employee was sprayed with 10 gallons of a sodium hydroxide solution while working on a clogged pump. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Aug. 19, 1994 - A radioactive-contaminated tank was discovered at the old Fire Training Area, where it had been put for use in training fire-fighting techniques. Fire-fighting trainees did not know it was contaminated. Direct cause: management problem.

Sept. 12, 1994 - A subcontractor worker was sent into an enclosed area to use a gas-powered saw to cut and remove a bar from a cage and was exposed to carbon monoxide buildup. Direct cause: management problem.

Nov. 15, 1994 - Radioactive-contaminated soil and debris were discovered in the ''spoils piles'' from the trench being excavated for a new public water supply line. Direct cause: management problem.

Nov. 22, 1994 - A worker was found to have radioactive contamination on the right knee of his pants while he was performing maintenance chores on several sump pumps while working in Plant 2 - 3 Contamination Area. He was wearing protective clothing. He picked up, wrapped in plastic and carried a pump that was later determined to be radioactive. Direct cause: management problem.

Nov. 22, 1994 - A worker's shoes were contaminated with radiation while the worker was in the Plant 8 Contamination Area. Radioactive material embedded itself in the shoe's treads although protective boot covers were worn. Direct cause: management problem.

Dec. 1, 1994 - A worker inventorying trash in an unlabeled 55-gallon drum in the Analytical Facility Laboratory (an area designated as safe from radiation) was contaminated after picking up a piece of metal that was later determined to be radioactive. Direct cause: personnel error.

Dec. 7, 1994 - Radiation-contaminated soil and debris were found in the Receiving Incoming Material Inspection Area Building 82 while workers were digging a trench. A backhoe uncovered a contaminated 5-gallon drum and a worker was told to open the lid with a shovel. It was later determined the drum was radioactive. Direct cause: management problem.

Dec. 12, 1994 - A worker's pants were found contaminated with radiation. The worker said the trousers had hung in his locker for six weeks, and the contamination was found on the day he said he first wore them. He was contaminated despite wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

Jan. 12, 1995 - Eight pallets containing 900 boxes of radioactive-contaminated documents were discovered outside Building 64. The contaminated records not only posed a radiation risk to employees, but were exposed to the weather, destroying many documents. Direct cause: management problems.

Jan. 18, 1995 - A worker's pants were contaminated with radiation after the worker placed bags of trash in containers in Plant 1 and Building 71. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: personnel error.

Jan. 19, 1995 - On Nov. 1, 1994, a shipment of 38 drums arrived with Fernald-generated waste and the containers exceeded maximum radiation levels. On Dec. 12, 1994, another shipment of 38 drums containing Fernald-generated waste arrived in Nevada with a leaking drum that resulted in personnel being contaminated. Direct cause on both incidents: management problem.

Jan. 19, 1995 - A shipment sent from Fernald to the Nevada Test Site contained a ''leaking white metal box'' from which a radioactive, ''greenish, slimy liquid'' was oozing out. Another leaking container was also discovered on Dec. 30, 1994. Direct cause: management problem.

Jan. 24, 1995 - Approximately 35 gallons of uranium-contaminated (radioactive) water spilled at Plant 8 after supervisors failed to monitor the system control board, which would have alerted them to valve problems which led to the overflow. Direct cause: personnel error.

March 8, 1995 - A subcontractor employee's clothing was contaminated after he worked in the Plant 4 High Contamination Area although he wore protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

March 10, 1995 - An employee's scarf and jacket were contaminated, even though the worker did not enter any contaminated area with the clothing on. Direct cause: management problem.

March 25, 1995 - A worker was contaminated while working in the Plant 4 elevator shaft after radioactive grease soaked through his protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

April 3, 1995 - Fernald workers received two 55-gallon drums and packages of radioactive samples from a subcontract lab in Missouri, which exceeded maximum radiation levels. Direct cause: personnel error.

April 3, 1995 - Two Hazardous Waste Technicians were exposed to hight levels of airborne lead during maintenance and cleaning work at the Pistol Range in the Services Building. Direct cause: training deficiency. Root cause: management problem.

April 20, 1995 - A worker's boots were contaminated after the worker moved equipment and tools to a new excavation site project in Waste Pit 2. Contaminated mud seeped through a seam in the protective clothing onto the worker's boots. Direct cause: management problem.

April 22, 1995 - Workers found heavy radiation contamination in a porter's storage closet located along the south hallway of the Laboratory Building. Radiation was also found at the base of a sink and in dust and lint particles on the floor. Direct cause: management problem.

June 12, 1995 - A worker's pants were contaminated after the worker removed valves on the third floor of Plant 1, although protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: management problem.

June 12, 1995 - A worker's left shoe was contaminated while the worker was marking and moving empty radioactive drums. Protective clothing was worn.

June 19, 1995 - A worker was soaked with about a half-gallon of contaminated water while working on the UNH Neutralization Project. After being soaked, the worker remained in the area performing general housekeeping chores, including rolling up hoses before he went through radiation monitors and the contamination was discovered. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: personnel error.

June 20, 1995 - A worker's shoes were contaminated with radiation after the worker was in Room W-17 of the Analytical Facility Laboratory preparing material for shipment. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: personnel error. Contributing cause: management problem.

July 11, 1995 - The right sleeve of a subcontractor worker's long-sleeve T-shirt was contaminated after work in Plant 4, although protective clothing was worn. The T-shirt was spare clothing the employee had changed into after working in the plant. Direct cause: management problem.

July 11, 1995 - Empty shipping packages inside a vehicle that was returning from Oak Ridge, Tenn., were found to have radiation levels exceeding regulations. Direct cause: personnel error.

July 12, 1995 - A subcontractor employee's shoe was contaminated while the worker was in Plant 4. During his work, the employee handled a pipe that tore a hole in his protective clothing. Direct cause: personnel error.

July 14, 1995 - A subcontractor employee's boots and T-shirt were contaminated after work was done on the Waste Pit 6 sampling project. Protective clothing was worn. Direct cause: personnel error. Root cause: management problem.

July 27, 1995 - A lab technician performing a radium analysis in the Technical Laboratory was exposed to fuming nitric acid and nitrogen dioxide, which he inhaled. Also, a nitric acid spray from a broken container splashed the employee. Direct cause: design problem. Root cause: management problem.

Aug. 4, 1995 - A worker's safety shoes were contaminated while he was painting in the Boiler Plant and Building 12. The worker said he remembered stepping in wet paint, and apparently a radiation buildup occurred on his shoes. He also remembered stepping in some cleaning solution. Direct cause: management problem.

Aug. 6, 1995 - Subcontract workers were exposed to high levels of cancer-causing ceramic fibers while working inside a furnace at the pilot vitrification plant, despite wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: personnel error. Contributing cause: management problem.

Aug. 7, 1995 - A subcontractor employee's safety boots were contaminated while he was working in Plant 4, although he was wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: personnel error. Root cause: management problem.

Aug. 17, 1995 - Two workers received ''acute exposure to cancer-causing formaldehyde'' while unloading 55-gallon drums from an enclosed semi-trailer truck. Direct cause: equipment - material problem.

Aug. 30, 1995 - A subcontractor employee's clothing was contaminated with radiation after the worker spent about two hours in Plant 4 performing demolition and asbestos abatement jobs. Protective clothing was worn. Contamination was found on his T-shirt and underwear. Direct cause: management problem.

Aug. 30, 1995 - An employee assigned to check other workers for radiation contamination discovered his left shoe was contaminated while working in Plant 4, although he was wearing protective clothing. Direct cause: management problem.

Oct. 10, 1995 - A subcontractor employee was contaminated with radiation on her skin and clothing after unzipping her protective clothing and then later being splashed with ''green salt'' (a radioactive substance). After being contaminated, she zipped back up her protective clothing. She received an ''acute and excessive'' dose of radiation while performing general cleanup and disposal of contaminated piping in Plant 4. She was later fired. Direct cause: personnel error.

Published Feb. 12, 1996.