Program - Single Session

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Disasters in Health Physics (Part 1)

Wednesday 02/23/2022

Room: Regency B

8:00 - 12:00

Chair(s): Gene Carbaugh, Robert Hayes

WAM-B.1  08:00  Radium dial worker patterns of intake by workplace and era. Martinez Nicole E*, Clemson University, ORNL; Jokisch Derek W, Francis Marion University, ORNL; Samuels Caleigh E, ORNL; Dauer Lawrence T, Memorial Sloan Kettering; Boice, Jr. John D, Vanderbilt, NCRP; Leggett Richard W, ORNL

There has been renewed interest in the radium dial workers over the past few years, both in the general public and in the scientific community. For example, a popular book focusing on the life and experiences of the early workers was published in 2017 and was made into a movie the following year. Even more recently the Million Person Study has brought in the radium dial worker cohort for a fresh look as the last evaluation of this cohort was conducted in the 1990s. Applying modern dosimetric and epidemiological models to this cohort will provide additional insight into dose-response relationships for alpha emitters, with broad applications for radiation protection in medicine and in space travel. Part of this work involves identifying, as possible, areas of variability in intakes of radium and how those might be accounted for. For example, lip-pointing, or shaping a paint brush to a fine point with the mouth, led to high intakes of radium in the 1920s. Lip-pointing was banned in 1925, but there are reports that some individuals and some facilities continued to use lip-pointing for at least a few years more. Average intakes were much lower in the years following, but the question remains how to appropriately model daily intake over time with the uncertainty surrounding the practice of lip-pointing. Another factor contributing to variability in intake is the workplace; within the current cohort of interest, Waterbury Clock Company in Connecticut had the highest average daily intakes of radium-228, whereas the US Radium Corporation in New Jersey had the highest average daily intakes of radium-226. This presentation highlights some of the pilot work done to gain insight into patterns of radium intake by dial workers to refine how our dosimetric models are applied.

WAM-B.2  08:30  Lessons from the 1976 Hanford Am-241 Accident . Carbaugh Eugene H*, CHP, Emeritus, (RET)

A 1976 ion exchange column explosion at the Hanford Site resulted in extensive facility contamination and the highest internal deposition of Am-241 ever recorded in a human. Lessons learned include the importance of practical plans for dealing with highly contaminated individuals requiring long-term care, the life-saving effectiveness of decorporation therapy and personal decontamination methods, and the potential impact of infrastructure changes on response. This presentation is an abbreviated version of a one-hour continuing education lecture.

WAM-B.3  09:00  A front line, first person view of the 2014 WIPP event. Hayes Robert B*, North Carolina State University

The WIPP event in February of 2014 was an extremely expensive event in both public discourse on nuclear waste management but also due to the funding requirements for recovery. This presentation will offer a first person and front line view of the emergency response phase of the event followed by the recovery efforts and then conclude with latest details covering current disposal efforts.

WAM-B.4  09:45  BREAK.    

WAM-B.5  10:15  Comparisons of Past Studies of the Trinity Nuclear Test. Shonka Joseph J*, Self; Shonka joe

There have been 8 studies that attempted to address the impact from fallout from the 1945 Trinity Nuclear Test to uninvolved civilians located downwind. The conclusions reached by those studies differ by more than an order of magnitude. A comparison between those studies is presented. The most recent (2020) study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) stated that exposures from all pathways to downwind residents were less than those experienced by Japanese survivors, participants in weapons tests and even less than the cumulative exposure due to background radiation. The 2010 Los Alamos Document Retrieval and Assessment Project (LAHDRA) conducted by contractors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) summarized estimates by the Manhattan Engineering District that state the maximum exposure from external radiation alone exceeded 2 gray, a value comparable to the maximum exposure range seen in the Japanese survivors. Both results appear to contradict each other. Potential reasons for this large discrepancy are provided, along with recommendations to resolve the differences.

WAM-B.6  10:30  Pennsylvania 1967 Accelerator Accident: Part 1- Circumstances and Medical Consequences. Lubenau Joel O.*, Retired

On Oct. 4, 1967 three workers using an industrial Van de Graff accelerator configured for neutron production were accidentally exposed to radiation when the accelerator failed to shut off following completion of an irradiation procedure. Their estimated doses were about 6 Gy to the whole body of worker “C,” 59 Gy to his hands, and 27 Gy to his feet; about 3 Gy whole body to worker “M,” and about 1 Gy whole body to Worker “Z.” Workers C and M manifested Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) symptoms and the injuries to C’s hands and feet required amputations. All three survived; in C’s case thanks to the transplant of bone marrow from an identical twin brother. The transplant was performed by Dr. E. Donnell Thomas who developed bone marrow transplantation to treat leukemia and other blood cancers, work that led to a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1990.

WAM-B.7  10:45  Pennsylvania 1967 Accelerator Accident: Part 2 - Radiation Safety and Regulatory Implications. Lubenau Joel O.*, Retired

A safety interlock system protected access to the shielded room containing the accelerator but it failed when the workers entered the room. Five possible electro-mechanical failures of the system were identified but subsequent testing of the system did not provide evidence that any occurred. The investigation, however, disclosed procedural, maintenance, and training deficiencies in the safety program for the accelerator. These findings raised concerns about the safety of the other 52 accelerators used in Pennsylvania. All received advisories from the state about the accident, were requested to re-review their radiation safety programs in light of the investigation findings, and later were visited by state health physicists. Other state radiation protection programs were advised of the accident and investigation findings. The state concluded that regulations for radiation safety specific to accelerators were needed. Its regulation for accelerator safety became the model for that adopted by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors Suggested State regulations.

WAM-B.8  11:00  The Radiological Accident in Goiânia. Bertelli Luiz*, Los Alamos National Laboratory

In late 1985, a private radiotherapy institute located in the city of Goiania, Brazil moved to new premises taking their Co-60 teletherapy unit but leaving in place a Cs-137 unit, without notifying the Brazilian licensing authority as required by law. The old building was then partly demolished and the 137Cs source became insecure. On September 13th 1987 two people entered, found some scrap metal value, removed the source assembly from the radiation head, took it home and tried to dismantle it. As a result, the source was ruptured causing environmental contamination and external and internal exposure of several persons. Four people died due to very high radiation doses. This seminar will focus on describing how the accident was discovered, how it has evolved, and how it was controlled according to official sources in the literature, as well as providing personal experiences by the presenter, who participated as a lead member of the radiation dose assessments team. Detailed aspects of individual monitoring and medical care to the victims will also be presented.

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