[ RadSafe ] > 300 mrems/month = "no significant exposure"?

Mon Sep 9 12:24:36 CDT 2013

You can't assume that every radiation facility in the world can - or should - comply with power reactor practices (and, for what it's worth, I got my start in Naval nuclear power, where we considered commercial power plants to be a bit on the sloppy side when it came to radiation safety practices). 

There are physicians out there who routinely get a few hundred mrem monthly while they're doing cardiac catheterizations, placing stents, and so forth - are you planning on telling them they're being irresponsible for using fluoroscopy to save lives? You cannot shoehorn the entirety of radiation safety into the one framework that you are familiar with.

Incidentally, if you read the report you posted, it says that the worker's exposure of 328 mrem *for the month of August* was not considered significant.  It does NOT say that the worker received 328 mrem every month so there's no grounds to claim that this means that it's considered acceptable to get a dose of 3-5 rem per year.

You are correct in your concerns about the equipment problems and training. But you're off-base in your declaration that a one-time high exposure somehow means that the company is willing to expose its workers to doses near the annual limit. There's a lot more to radiation safety than working at a power plant - you might consider trying to broaden your horizons before blasting those who work in other areas.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of William Lipton
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 12:49 PM
To: radsafe
Subject: [ RadSafe ] > 300 mrems/month = "no significant exposure"?

I'm concerned about this NRC event report from a radiography provider:


The RSO for the licensee called to report a potential overexposure of a
radiographer. This event occurred while the radiographer was checking welds
at a refinery in Wyoming. While moving the camera to another location, the
radiographer's dosimeter alarmed. It is suspected that the camera's source
was not fully retracted into the safe position. The source was subsequently
retracted back into the fully shielded position.

The RSO calculates an estimated dose to the radiographer of 5 rem. The
licensee will send the radiographer's dosimetry for expedited reading as
soon as possible.

The licensee will update this report with additional details as they become


The RSO has received the radiographer's dosimetry badge readings. The
radiographer was still wearing his August dosimetry when the event
occurred. His badge readings was 328 mrem for the entire month of August
including the exposure from this event.

Since there was no significant exposure from the event, the licensee has
retracted this event notification. *
While I'm glad that there was no overexposure, there are 2 important issues
that need to be addressed:

1.  Why did the source fail to retract:  mechanical failure?, less than
adequate training?  under time pressure? ...  This has to be determined and

2.  328 mrems in one month is considered routine and acceptable.  This
means that it's acceptable for the company's radiographers  to receive 3 -
5 rems/year.  This is NOT "As Low As Reasonably Achievable."  Again, the
NRC has a double standard.  Power reactors have a de facto limit of 1
rem/year for a rad worker.  My experience is that this is rarely
approached, and this is under much more difficult circumstances than found
in most radiography jobs.

*B*ill Lipton
It's not about dose, it's about trust.
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