Internal contamination of a worker in a fuel pellets fabrication workshop

Print View Posted on: 07 February 2024

Event Date: 11 February 2020 Event Type: Fuel Fabrication
Event Location: France, Melox - Orano Cycle - Marcoule INES Rating: 2 (Final)

The event occurred in the pelleting workshop, where mixtures of plutonium and uranium oxide powders are compacted into cylindrical pellets. These operations are carried out in glove boxes. While cleaning a glove box containing a compacting press, one of the gloves was punctured, causing atmospheric contamination of the working area. This contamination was detected by the room’s radiation monitors and the area was evacuated in accordance with the procedures in force.

One of the three people present in this room was contaminated. The CEA Marcoule medical service then took charge of this person.

Orano Cycle informed ASN of this event on 12 February, indicating that radio-toxicological analyses had been run to estimate the committed dose for this person.

These analyses, which lasted several months, show that the committed dose could exceed the annual dose limit set at 20 mSv. Therefore, on 24 June 2020, Orano Cycle reported this event as a “significant event” in accordance with ASN’s requirements. The CEA Marcoule medical service and Orano Cycle are continuing their investigations in order to determine the committed dose value, since the estimated committed dose for this event is far higher than expected on the basis of the atmospheric contamination level measured by the workplace monitors when the event occurred.

This event had no consequences on either the installations or the environment. Orano Cycle cleaned the room and assessed the equipment used. The licensee started to work on improving the mechanical strength of the gloves and the configuration of the workstations. ASN will also assess the results of investigations concerning the relationship between the level of contamination measured by the monitors and the estimated committed dose.

INES Rating: 2 - Incident (Final) as per 24 June 2020
Release beyond authorized limits? No
Overexposure of a member of the public? No
Overexposure of a worker? Yes

Contamination spread within the facility? No
Damage to radiological barriers (incl. fuel damage) within the facility? No

Degradation of Defence In-Depth No

Person injured physically or casualty? No
Is there a continuing problem? No

Julien Husse
Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN)
Site Sponsors
Site Sponsors: IAEA, NEA and WANO
This site is hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and co-sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD/NEA) and World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
This site is hosted by the IAEA, however, event reports are filed and updated by authorities in participating countries, which remain responsible for all related content. Read more >