[ RadSafe ] ALARA

garyi at trinityphysics.com garyi at trinityphysics.com
Mon Jun 23 19:22:04 CDT 2008

Well, its hard to argue with a neatly ordered outline.  I suppose I must be wrong.  I ran into a 
similar situation in regard to my finances a few years back.  I told my wife many times that the 
best way to get out of debt was to pay off the highest interest credit card first.  We didn't 
seem to get anwhere until she began listening to a guy who said to pay off the smallest debt 
first.  He called it a "debt snowball".

Any accountant can tell you that I was right.  But we still made more headway going 
backwards because it just felt better to my wife to picture a giant snowball wiping out our 

I suppose there could be some kind of emotional gratification contained in the ALARA 
concept, or maybe in the sound of the acronym itself.  If you treat your patients with snake oil 
and they get better, then there must be something to it.

Good night!
Gary Isenhower

On 23 Jun 2008 at 19:26, NeilKeeney at aol.com wrote:

Gary or Joe et al:

In direct response to your question, we unquestionably 'get 
something' from ALARA.  I've primarily been associated with planning
and  implementation of major projects at commercial nuclear facilities
around the  country for the last couple of decades.  My observations
and  conclusions closely align with what Dr. Lipton has indicated.

To take it a couple of steps further, the depth and degree of 
planning and preparation necessary to achieve some of the key
objectives of  ALARA, which, in the aggregate result in reduced
collective dose may be  summarized in a few points: 1.    There is
generally less rework  necessary to be performed across our major
project tasks because:

a.    We have workable plans that  were compelled to be developed in
detail in part as the result of ALARA  considerations.  Some of these
go so far as to specify the exact tools,  parts and pieces necessary
to perform the work.  In some cases they call  for backup equipment or
components.  These variables are based on the  lessons-learned for the
activity.  I have often observed, in the 'old'  days, a work group
exiting the work areas because they had the wrong bolt,  forgot a
wrench, the tool broke, the wrong gasket; on and on.  That doesn't 
happen anymore at a facility with a good ALARA program.  It simply 
results in greater efficiency all around which, in turn, optimizes the
activity  in terms of collective dose expenditure.

b.    We have superior scheduling that  takes into consideration work
sequences that result in avoiding unnecessary  exposure.  For example,
if it were not for the ALARA concept, there would  be nothing
preventing any particular project management team from draining  the
Steam Generator shell of secondary water (shielding) thus  exposing
the workforce to 30,000 manhours of increased dose-rates on  the order
of 2 - 3 times that of a filled shell.  An extreme example  but I've
seen the results of premature drain-down.

c.    Via this concept, we have been able  to reconcile internal and
external exposure via TEDE ALARA precepts.  This  took thousands of
people out of respirators and also greatly increased worker 
efficiency and, therefore improved production making us more reliable
as an  industry.  This also compelled advances in the use and utility
of  engineering controls for ventilation and Containment At The Source
concepts for  contamination control.

2.    Enhanced proficiency in performing  difficult or complex tasks -
previously discussed.  There's nothing  like achieving greater reality
on the scope and magnitude of one's part in a  complex task.  It's a
drill of the technique and methodology and is  consistent with other
such practices across our society.  This is how a  process is debugged
prior to actual execution and it's a valuable element of  reducing or
avoiding dose.

I have observed the improvements across our industry  first-hand. 
Work implementation used to be carried out in a cavalier  fashion
without respect to collective dose.  Rework was routine.   Schedules
ignored shielding installation, work group interferences with one 
another, or water level management techniques (in PWRs).  Workers were
 worked until they maxed-out on dose and then you got another guy and
did the  same with him.  It was pretty ugly.

Well.  These are a few viewpoints about the matter.   There are many
more but I've been accused in the past of being too verbose so I  will
leave it at this for now.  

Neil Keeney
Currently at CR3 SGRP

In a message dated 6/23/2008 6:43:07 P.M. Eastern Daylight  Time,
garyi at trinityphysics.com writes:


Did Alara produce the successful facility, or did the  successful
facility produce doses that were Alara?

In other words,  if you went into a "dirty" plant and made them
implement Alara, would the  plant become a model facility?  Or would
it still be "dirty" wherever  scrutiny was lacking?  I agree that the
correlation you recall exists,  but I strongly doubt that Alara is the
causative factor.

Unless you  are willing to insist that Alara is a causative factor,
your concluding  statement is unfounded.  I assert that the well run
facilities you  recall would have been just as well run (perhaps
better) if Alara had never  been conceived, had never been made a part
of the compliance  requirement.

So I'm back to this:  Do we get anything from ALARA  that we could not
have just by writing clear regs? 

And, this  is the last I will post on this issue.  I am so busy
keeping things  Alara that I have no more time to think about whether
this is a good  policy.  :P

-Gary Isenhower

**************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for 
fuel-efficient used cars.     
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