United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 81-18: Excessive Radiation Exposures to the Fingers of Three Individuals Incurred During Cleaning and Wipe Testing of Radioactive Sealed Sources at a Sealed-Source Manufacturing Facility

                                                             SSINS No: 6870 
                                                             Accession No: 
                                                             8103300379    
                                                             IN 81-18      

                                UNITED STATES
                        NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                    OFFICE OF INSPECTION AND ENFORCEMENT
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555
                                     
                                June 23, 1981

Information Notice No. 81-18:   EXCESSIVE RADIATION EXPOSURES TO THE 
                                   FINGERS OF THREE INDIVIDUALS INCURRED 
                                   DURING CLEANING AND WIPE TESTING OF 
                                   RADIOACTIVE SEALED SOURCES AT A 
                                   SEALED-SOURCE MANUFACTURING FACILITY 

Purpose: 

This notice provides information about the potential for high radiation 
exposures, particularly to fingers or hands, while cleaning or wipe-testing 
multicurie sealed sources. It is also intended to inform other individuals 
that have hand contact with radioactive materials of the potential for high 
exposures to the hands. This information should be brought to the attention 
of all persons involved in the administration and operation of sealed-source
manufacture, sealed-source use, or other programs which involve hand 
contacts with radioactive materials. 

Description of Event: 

Three individuals employed at a radioactive sealed-source manufacturing 
facility received excessive radiation exposures to their fingers. The 
exposures were of a chronic nature, extending over several years for two of 
the individuals. The highest exposures appeared to have occurred to the 
right thumbs and index fingers. This is based on the degree of visible 
radiation injury. The exposures to the individuals were estimated to have 
been 1,000, 7,000 and 25,000 rads respectively during 1980. 

The individuals were involved in the cleaning and wipe-testing of multicurie
sealed sources. The sources were placed into a "J" shaped cavity in a 
shielded pig. The sources were then lifted, lowered, and rotated by hand 
against pipe cleaners that were also inserted into the cavity. During the 
lifting procedure, the source was lifted from the bottom of the "J" cavity 
into an unshielded position. This resulted in a high-intensity pencil-like 
beam of radiation out of the cavity. 

The excessive exposures resulted because inadequate protective procedures 
and methods were used. Failure to perform adequate surveys and failure to 
provide adequate finger monitoring devices prevented discovery of the 
exposures until there were visible symptoms of radiation injury to the 
fingers. 

No written response to this information notice is required. If you need 
additional information regarding this subject, contact the director of the 
appropriate NRC Regional Office. 

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