posted on Jun, 29 2012 @ 12:04 PM
The Few, The Proud, The Exposed Chapter 2
Because nuclear power plant needed round the clock maintenance our union contract required us to work weekends and take Monday and Tuesday off. I
remember one Saturday we were getting ready to remove lead shielding in the sub-pile room which is under the core containment vessel. We prepped the
day before moving mesh plastic and other supplies to wrap up the lead and move it out of the sub-pile room. The plan was that some techs from Bechtel
would hydro-laze or high pressure washes the lead before we removed it. This job was going to require that we wore dosimeters on our fingers, knee,
torso and head along with our regular pencil dosimeter because of the room had some very hot (radioactive) pipes. Then on Sunday morning I felt ok but
for some reason I was driving in I got sick; pulled over; and puked my guts out. Well, I never went to work that fateful day. On Monday when I arrived
my crew was missing and everyone kept asking me, “What the hell happened yesterday?”
I didn’t know until I talked to my crew members what had happened. Here I what they told me. They were standing at the top of the ladder well as
Bechtel was finishing the hydro-lazing. Then right after that was completed they descended the ladder (three laborers and two carpenters) to remove
the lead from the pipes and racks they were attached too. They didn’t indicate there was any problem removing the lead but when they went to leave
the drywell (the main containment around core). As the workers removed their protective clothing, rain suits and respirators the health physics
personnel began to check the workers out of the drywell. The Geiger counters started going off! They were all contaminated.
My co-workers said that they believed there was a reverse air flow out of the drywell and that even their key cards at the HP desk were contaminated.
One of the workers had contamination of 40,000 MR on their arm while another had 16,000 MR while two others had internal contamination and were not
allowed in the plant. The other worker had minor exposure. From what we determined that the workers were contaminated because the company sent them
into the hydro-lazing area immediately after it was completed and the air was still saturated with water. The respirators filters were for particulate
contamination and when the water droplets were inhaled they saturated the mask filters making them ineffective. Two of the laborers wanted to become
carpenters so PECO arranged for them to get union carpenter books while the two carpenters got well paid and then laid off. This was quickly swept
under the rug and I don’t believe the NRC was ever told exactly what happened but I know the company blamed it on the workers.
One day I lost part of my shirt because I leaned up against a wall which was supposed to be clean but it was radioactive. I lost part of a boot sole
one day too. This plant was old then and the interior was not painted but bare concrete walls until they started painting the floor with this epoxy
compound which was being used in Norwegian nuclear power plants. Workers started painting the main hallway and the smell knocks you off your feet. I
mean this how stupid the plant was run. No one ever thought about the fact they were using this epoxy paint in an enclosed area with little
venelation. Later that day one worker became disoriented and could not function while the others could not remember what they were doing because the
fumes intoxicated them! The plant uses negative air pressure to help keep contamination inside the plant. The air, once it enters the plant, takes
three days to move through the plant and then it is filtered as it exits the plant.
You have to remember that these plants label everything and you could get letters and numbers in many different colors and sizes. We would put our
names on our hardhats but on the third shift took it a step too far by putting this on the back of their hardhats, “White lines are no stranger to
the high rad rangers”. This was code for coc aine and methamphetamines which many employees used regularly. Once I was sitting at a union
meeting and the two guys sitting in front of me were talking about how on third shift they climbed up on top of a giant air conditioner and smoked a
I know there was much drug use in the plant. There was a major drug investigation in the plant during that time when an electric company employee,
Warren something, was caught with a quarter pound of crank in his brief case as he entered the plant. The feds sent him away for about six weeks to
train him to be a narc. When Warren returned he proceeded to make 17 or 18 drug deals in the plant. The operation was a complete bust when a judge
dismissed all of the charge because the snitch entrapped all of them and in the end the only person convicted was the snitch who took a plea
Then there was the guy who was standing fire watch in the small room with a cable try and a 36 inch pipe running through it. I went in to relieve the
man after two hours and he was straddling the high rad pipe (more than 100 MR per hour of exposure) doing a Slim Pickens from the Dr Strange Love
movie. He was yelling and whooping as he told us that he would not have any babies tonight! I just laughed at him and shook my head in disbelief.
One day we were getting ready to clock out of work when an electricians helper walked up and put his lunch box inside the open wood covering that they
put over the time clock because people were clocking out and not handing their bras in. Brass is just that it is just a brass plate the size of a
quarter with your employee number on it. Well we were sitting there when all of a sudden this guy’s lunch box fell to the floor with a loud bang.
The top of his Igloo cooler flopped open and five or six electrical load testers fell out on the floor!
Then there was a man named Grove, who worked the tool bin inside the plant. The tools which had fixed contamination on them were kept for use in the
plant and never left. One worker was always leaving early on Thursdays and he would drop off his tools and he would tell Grove that he was going home
and screw his wife! This went on for weeks. So one day the worker came and checked out and about an hour later Grove decided to go home early and
caught the guy in bed with his wife.
Then there were two guards who were in a relationship and then one night while they were working she went to visit him at his post. Well ,she went
down and satisfied his sexual desires right there in the little guard post while the everyone in the security control room watched. There was quite a
bit of buzz about this because he got fired and she didn’t! The reason was that she was on break while he was supposed to be well, guarding.