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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Nuclear Health!!
Message-ID: <>
Date: 3 Oct 92 23:17:33 GMT (Russ Brown) writes:

>In article <> writes:

>>1.What does the operator of the plant do for the basic health protection
>>of its employees.

>Pretty much industrial safety standard, with the additional monitoring
>of radiation exposure by dosimetry, whole-body counts, etc.
> might be able to provide practical information.

Not sure what the definition of "basic health protection" is.  If he meant
things like health insurance, utility benefits tend to be among the best.
That is a big draw for professionals in an industry not known for high

If he was talking about industrial hygene, Russ you pretty much hit it.
Radiation Workers (defined as anyone who is permitted unescorted access
to a site) must be certified to be in good enough health to wear radiation
protection gear (dressouts, supplied air equipment, etc.)  As a practical
matter, that means thorough annual medical checkups including treadmill hikes
and breathing function (spirometer) tests.  Much too thorough for my
taste (I'm a confirmed doctor hater :-()

>>2.Is O.S.H.A. the watch dog for there safety or if not who is.
>>And what role or rules do they set.

>OSHA, yes
>Nuclear Regulatory Commission, yes
>EPA, general environmental and waste standards, yes
>State regulations where they exist, yes.

I have never seen an OSHA presence and I believe federal regulation
superceeds state regulation.  I do know that a showdown happened at
TMI where the state industrial hygene people tried to come on site and
were not given clearance.  I only dimmly recall this incident so don't
hold me to it.  I do know that the quasi-government utilities like
TVA positively are exempt from OSHA.  Thank God.  If they had to worry
about the trivialities of OSHA, they'd problaby not have time to
address real safety.

>All of these are certainly imperfect at times, but in general, the
>health and safety of workers in nuclear facilities is probably monitored
>more closely than in other industry.

Absolutely.  "Safety" became opressive at times.  The utility is so
concerned about any negative publicity that they go overboard on the
industrial safety front.  I remember one incident where we were all
required to wear safety glasses and hardhats in order to go to the
head because the path required about 10 steps down a hall that was
defined as "plant area".  No equipment or anything present, just a
definition.  A more practical matter is the fact that even a minor
industrial injury such as a cut or scrape suddenly becomes serious
if radioactivity is involved.  The best way to deal with these problems
is simply to keep them from happening.

I can say without reserve that the nuclear power plants I've
worked in  were by a large margin the safest industrial
environment I've ever been in.  Since I started my work career
in nuclear power, stepping out to the non-regulated world was
somewhat of a culture shock.  My first excursion was to a TVA
fossil plant as part of a rotating machinery vibration
balancing team.  Gad what a nightmare.  Steam leaks everywhere,
capable of cutting steel, minimal and mostly worn out safety
equipment, workers routinely in  places I'd never go on a bet
and so on.  Things like men walking on  molten flyass pools that
have just barely crusted.  I still have my oak shoes used to
walk on red hot surfaces.  I was scared, particularly when I saw
the target of our work - a 35,000 hp, 8000 RPM  steam turbine
driving the  induced draft fan that vibrated so bad the edges
were blurred!

Even at M&M Mars (the candy people), where plant safety is held up as
the example of the industry, the equipment and procedures were poor
compared to the power industry.  Conventional, non-nuclear injuries
are rare and industrial deaths are so rare that they still get trade
press coverage.


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