Contractor fined for fire

Contractor fined for fire

OAK RIDGE (AP) — The government contractor running the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee has been fined $123,750 for a uranium fire that exposed more than 100 workers to radioactive smoke and dust. At the time of the 2007 fire, B&W Technical Services Inc. said no workers were injured or contaminated. But followup tests revealed 111 of 159 workers received some exposure by inhaling airborne material. Most received doses of 10 millirems or less — roughly equal to a chest X-ray, the National Nuclear Security Administration said. A few received closer to 100 millirems. None are expected to cause health problems, but NNSA said the exposures were unacceptable and levied the fine. B&W will pay the fine and focus on improving safety, company spokesman Bill Wilburn tells The Knoxville News Sentinel. The fire occurred when uranium was exposed to air while being transferred from one building to another, causing a chemical reaction that produced smoke and released airborne particles. The Y-12 plant makes parts for every nuclear warhead in the U.S. arsenal and hosts this country’s largest storehouse of bomb-grade uranium. ——— Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com Published in The Messenger 6.18.08

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