GLOWING ON THE JOB
( From: Issue 1 Vol 2)
Records obtained by the Public Citizen from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reveal that over 93000 workers at 83 nuclear plants were exposed to measurable amount of radiation in 1985. (The most recent year for which NRC has compiled data). A report from the Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project finds a dramatic increase in the number of exposed workers as plants age. For example, the oldest plants—those which began operating in the 1960’s — exposed their workers to four times as much radiation as the newest plants.
Other findings include:
- Worker exposure levels have continued to worsen : the figures represent a fourfold increase over the number of workers exposed in 1975 while the number of operating reactors increased by a factor of two. During the same time, the average of nuclear workers exposed to radiation at each reactor nearly doubled : from 579 workers per reactor in 1975 to 1132 workers per reactor in 1985.
- Temporary workers run the highest risk : while they represent one half of the nuclear work- force, in 1984 they received about two thirds of the total radiation exposure. Temporary workers can receive their maximum allowable dose at one nuclear power plant and then be employed at another plant thus receiving two or three times the allowed amount. The number of temporary workers has doubled in the last eight years.
The problem of worker exposure to radiation is most acute at the 28 Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) in the US. On average workers at BWR’s received 30% more radiation than those at other reactors. One BWR, the Susquehanna reactor in Pennsylvania, exposed 3669 people to radiation, more than three times the national average.
Thirty reactors exposed their workers to levels of radiation higher than the NRC’s ”allowable” level for the general public. Three reactors — the two at Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania and the Mill-stone-2 reactor in Connecticut — each exposed their employees to three times as much radiation as the a\erage plant did in 1985.
Rather than take measures to reduce this hazard, the NRC is considering rule changes that would actually increase exposure levels. For example, it is proposing to increase the amount of radiation allowed for each worker, even though the limits are alredy 10 times higher than government recom-mendations and 680 times higher than the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for the general public.
Source : WISE News Communique : 275,2350 Editor’s Note : Susquehanna BWR figures, (the worst US case), are old hat for Workers at Tarapur. The Tarapur plant has been regularly exposing between 3000 to 4000 workers year after year to radiation dosages from twice to thrice the average dosage to radiation workers at US plants.