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Summary of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health Meeting Held August 23-24, 2017

August 29, 2017

August 29, 2017

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CWP News

The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health held its 118th in-person meeting August 23-24, 2017 in Santa Fe, NM.  The meeting was well attended by the public.

Discussion papers provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Board’s technical contractor, Sanford Cohen and Associates (SC&A) can be found here.

NIOSH reported that the budget request for fiscal year 2018 remains the same as the current year.  They have hired two health physicists.  Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget also remains the same.  Department of Labor (DOL) did not address their budget during their presentation.

There will be a first-of-its kind regional outreach workshop for authorized representatives (AR) on September 14-15, 2017 in Jacksonville, FL.  This meeting is limited to ARs from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. The agencies, DOL and NIOSH Ombudsmen will offer workshops on a variety of subjects.  The agencies hope to hold additional regional workshops in the future.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

It is NIOSH’s position that they can reconstruct dose for all workers after December 31, 1995 because Congress enacted the Occupational Radiation Protection legislation on January 1, 1996.  NIOSH asserts that LANL would have had policies in place in which workers would have been provided with adequate personal protection and monitoring for possible exposure to radioactive contamination.

SC&A’s position is that while LANL may have had the written policies in place on January 1, 1996 the implementation of those policies took years to implement.  They cited a number of documents where LANL was found deficient in implementing the occupational protection policies.

The LANL SEC petitioner argued against NIOSH’s presumption that LANL implemented the policies immediately upon enactment.  He spoke to a history of LANL’s non-compliance with the Clean Air Act.  He also raised the outstanding concerns he raised with neptunium and other issues.

The Board’s Work Group will continue to investigate these issues.

Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

NIOSH determined that they cannot reconstruct dose for workers employed at the INL Chemical Processing Plant for workers who were assigned at least one film or TLD badge “…between January 1, 1975 and December 31, 1980 for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring solely under this employment, or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees in the Special Exposure Cohort.”  The Board approved this class.

Metal and Controls Corporation

NIOSH states they can reconstruct dose for the residual contamination years between January 1, 1968 and March 21, 1997. The class does not include administrative workers. NIOSH maintains that they have adequate personnel, air and surface monitoring to reconstruct dose.  The petitioner disagreed.  He said that NIOSH’s assumptions for certain buildings are misleading.  He said NIOSH ignored the memo supplied with the petition which acknowledged that large quantities of contaminants were present.  He objected to NIOSH expanding the class of workers beyond those identified in the petition.  The petitioner was disappointed that the Board members did not receive his written commentary before the meeting.  The Board recommended that a work group be formed to debate the different positions.

Santa Susanna Field Laboratory

SEC petition 00235 requested that workers from all workers employed at SSFL, Areas I, II, III as well as Area IV, between 1955 through the present be included in the class.  Currently only workers in Area IV are included in the SEC from January 1, 1955 through December 31, 1988.  NIOSH drastically narrowed the class to review to only Area IV workers employed between August 1, 1991 and June 30, 1993.

From the Evaluation Report, “NIOSH has disqualified Area IV in vitro data analyzed by Controls for Environmental Pollution during the period August 1991 through June 1993, NIOSH has determined that the lack of CEP in vitro data has not affected NIOSH’s ability to perform sufficiently accurate internal dose reconstructions for monitored or unmonitored workers.”

The petitioner not only objected to NIOSH’s position on the feasibility to reconstruct dose for these two years but also to ignoring the evidence and arguments she provided to support her position that all workers should be included in the SEC.  She gave an example of how all workers at the GE Evandale and Rocky Flats sites are covered despite the inability to place workers in the production areas where NIOSH determined they cannot reconstruct dose.  She also objected to the limited amount of time petitioners have to present complex issues to the Board.

Public Comment Period

There was a large turnout for the public comment session.  Many people came forward to explain that radiation protection policies at LANL were not sufficient after January 1, 1996 and provided examples.  Some city and state workers advised the Board that they are not covered under the program even though they work at LANL maintaining the shared water system or when fighting wild fires. A commenter from Idaho National Lab confirmed that as late as 2011 that workers were still exposed and documents have been lost or destroyed.  One commenter explained to the Board that DOL accepted their advisory board’s recommendation to rescind the policy on post-1995 exposures.  This policy also presumed that workers were adequately protected and were not exposed unnecessarily.  The commenter also asked the Board to rescind their recommendation on the Rocky Flats SEC petition since NIOSH has not reviewed thousands of boxes of documents.  Another commenter recommended that NIOSH develop a methodology to reconstruct dose for members of an SEC who do not meet the 250 day requirement or have a non-SEC cancer.