Chernobyl meltdown.jpg
Prairie Island radioactive release was just one week after the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster (above).

The NRC report of the 5/3 release says “approximately 100 workers” and NOT 12.

Here’s the NRC report on the radiation release at Prairie Island:

Morning Report for May 5, 2006

Headquarters Daily Report

Airborne Radioactivity Released Into Containment Building During Outage Work

Prairie Island 1
WELCH, Minnesota
Dockets: 05000282
[1] W-2-LP

MR Number: 3-2006-0006
Date: 05/03/2006

Resident Inspector Notified


The licensee inadvertently released airborne radioactive contaminants into the Containment Building in preparation or planned work in the Unit-1 steam generators during its refueling outage. Steam generators were not properly vented during removal of the generator man-ways in preparation for nozzle dam installation. Consequently, gaseous contaminants within the steam generators were exhausted directly into the Containment Building atmosphere. The Containment Building was evacuated until radiological conditions were restored approximately 12-hours later through the containment building atmosphere cleanup system. There was no radiological release to the environment. Approximately 100 workers present in the Containment Building were externally contaminated and had small intakes of radioactive material composed principally of radioiodines. Preliminary results show that radiation doses from the intakes were less than one percent of applicable regulatory limits. Workers were decontaminated to remove external contamination prior to being released from the plant.

Regional Action: Two Region III Radiation Specialists will review the circumstances and the radiological consequences of the incident during an onsite inspection the week of May 8, 2006.

Accession Numbers:
Accession No ML061250255
Accession Date 05/02/06

Office Abbrev R3
Phone No (630) 829-9820


I found notice of this radioactive release first in the Red Wing Republican Eagle. But that report said 12 workers. Then I saw the STrib’s story, which said 100, and was buried in “Science & Technology.” And then the StPPP report which said 100. Now it’s 110 in the Red Wing paper. Anne Jacobson, the Editor, was the reporter on this. She was a reporter back in “Nuclear Waste Daze” and unlike her Editor predecessor, I found her credible and trustworthy. I seriously doubt she’d report over 100 affected workers as “12.” So where did this number come from? The incident occurred LAST WEEK, so I would think that Xcel would know how many workers were affected, to what degree, and what was done a week ago! Where did that 12 number come from?

Here’s how it’s explained in the Red Wing paper:

About 110 workers at the Prairie Island nuclear plant were exposed to low levels of radiation last week, Nuclear Management Co. said Tuesday. A dozen of those received slightly higher exposure than the others — about the equivalent of a dental X-ray.

But after that, this story follows, and it’s hard to do other than snort. I ask you, is this reassuring? (bold emphasis added)

Public would be informed if risk of radiation existed, inspector says

Jen Cullen Red Wing Republican Eagle
Published Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If there was an event at Prairie Island nuclear plant the public needed to know about, they’d be informed.

And probably from a number of sources, said Duane Karjala, one of the plant’s resident Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors.

“I live in Red Wing so I’m protecting my own family, my own home,” he said. “One of NRC’s guiding principals is openness. We want to make sure we protect the health and safety of the public and make sure the information is available to them.”

There are four emergency levels at the plant (from lowest to highest): unusual event, alert, site emergency and general emergency.

Last week’s radiation exposure fell below the lowest of those emergency levels, Karjala said.

Any incident that falls within those levels would lead to a prompt notification of state and local officials.

The plant has various reporting periods depending on the severity of incidents or emergency situations. For example, Karjala said a “very severe” incident would have to be reported to proper officials within one hour.

A public information center would also be set up and the press would be briefed whenever possible, he added.

So what exactly is considered an unusual event at the nuclear plant? (unusual event = lowest category)

Karjala gave a few examples: The failure of a piece of safety equipment. Release of radiation â?? above regulated amounts â?? outside the plant.

A general emergency would be declared if there was damage to the plant’s reactor core, among other things.

Karjala understands how last week’s incident can put people on edge. But he urges the public to let plant workers and inspectors like himself do their jobs.

“We’re watching everything that’s going on and can recognize the incidents that are serious,” he said. “The word radiation naturally raises fear in people if they don’t understand the word.”

More information about the NRC can be found at Karjala also said he or Prairie Island’s other resident inspector, John Adams, can answer questions about safety from the public.

Both inspectors can be reached at (651) 388-8209.

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