BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker was struck in the back by a 15 to 20 pound plastic bag of radioactive waste that fell about 20 feet into an underground vault in late October, according to an October 23 weekly report just posted by Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board on-site inspectors.
The incident happened at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.
The report says the vault services an intra-facility transfer line for transuranic liquid wastes and is a permitted confined space.
“The incident occurred when the tape that was used to attach the bag to lifting equipment failed and the worker was standing under the load. The worker was not contaminated, but received return-to-work restrictions for the injury,” the report states.
It notes that the same week, fact-finding participants identified the need for a number of significant corrective actions prior to resuming this activity, including: ensuring the work package complied with institutional requirements for hoisting and rigging; selecting an engineered solution to secure waste to the lift line; and determining an effective means of communications between workers in the vault and aboveground given the personal protective equipment required for the chemical and radiological hazards.
“Triad personnel concluded that this event did not constitute a reportable near-miss, which DOE defines as when happenstance is the main reason the event did not result in a reportable injury,” the report said.
A LANL spokesman said Tuesday morning that the Lab’s daily operations are “complex and demanding”.
“The lessons learned from this incident are being captured. The careful review of the sequence of events will lead to improvements in our waste handling processes and procedures at the Laboratory,” he said.
No further information was made available on the incident.