Issued 6/10/97


UPTON, NY The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reported today that two workers were found to be contaminated yesterday with low-level radiation. Each worker had a single particle of radioactive cobalt-60 on their clothing.

The doses to the workers were extremely low and pose no threat to their health. Routine decontamination procedures were implemented.

The incident has been reported to federal, state and local authorities. A preliminary assessment of the incident revealed the following information.

Yesterday, a worker leaving a storage area in the High Flux Beam Reactor building set off a radiation monitor. The worker had been handling mock-up fuel elements, which contain no uranium and are used for testing purposes. He notified radiation protection workers, who surveyed the storage area and discovered contamination on some of the mock-up fuel elements in that area. Further investigation revealed that on June 4, other mock-up fuel elements had been moved to a machine shop adjacent to the reactor building. They were also found to be contaminated. A second worker, who had handled the fuel elements in the machine shop, was then found to have contamination on his shoe. As a precaution, the Lab is surveying this worker's car and home for contamination.

The High Flux Beam Reactor, a research reactor, was shut down for routine maintenance in December 1996, and has remained closed in order to allow remediation of a tritium leak from the reactor's spent fuel pool.

Brookhaven Lab has begun an investigation of this incident.

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