Radioactive Material Discovered on Clothing at PPL's Susquehanna Plant

March 5, 2003
Two contract General Electric employees reported to PPL's Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Luzerne County (Pa.) yesterday with low levels of radioactive material on their clothing. The radioactive material is believed to have originated at another facility, and not at Susquehanna.

Highly sensitive monitoring equipment at the plant detected the radioactivity as the contractors were leaving the area inside the plant's security fence. Plant personnel began investigating the situation and conducting additional radiological surveys immediately, said Joe Scopelliti, public information manager for the Susquehanna plant.

"At no time was the health and safety of the contractors, other Susquehanna workers or the general public affected because of this incident," Scopelliti said. "The level of radioactivity on the clothing was slightly above what is seen in background radiation in the environment."

The contractors' previous job was at a nuclear power plant in Sweden, which means they traveled to the United States either wearing or carrying the radioactive clothing. Yesterday was the contractors' first day inside Susquehanna's security fence, however neither contractor had entered the plant's radiological control area, Scopelliti said.

Routine radiological surveys outside the plant's radiological control area, as well as follow-up surveys done yesterday in the contractors' office area and off-site, were found to be free of radioactive contamination.

"Anyone inside of the plant's protected area, whether they have been in the radiological control area or not, is screened for radioactivity before leaving the plant," Scopelliti said.

General Electric is continuing to investigate, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection were notified of the situation.

PPL Corp. controls about 11,500 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to customers in Pennsylvania, the United Kingdom and Latin America.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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