Date: 11 March 2006
Location: Fleurus, Belgium
Type of event: accident with industrial irradiator
A worker received an accidental radiation exposure at a facility for irradiation of medical devices. The facility uses a cobalt-60 source in an exposure cell but stowed in a pool when personnel are present, using a safety interlock system. On 11 March the employee noticed a radiation monitor alarm was activated with no irradiation in progress and the cell door open. He reset the alarm and entered the cell for 20 seconds to close the cell door. The worker was not carrying a Geiger counter as required by company procedures. He suffered nausea and vomiting soon afterward but made no connection to the irradiator. Several weeks later he suffered massive hair loss and went to a doctor, when it was determined he suffered an exposure of 420 rem; this estimate was subsequently revised to 440-480 rem. The individual was admitted to a French hospital for treatment of radiation sickness on 31 March. Primary cause of the accident has been suggested to be a failure of the hydraulic control system that raises and lowers the source from safe storage in its pool.
Consequences: 1 injury.
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Last modified 19 November 2011.
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