San Onofre plant worker falls in reactor pool

A plant worker at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego fell inside a reactor pool last week, but he didn’t suffer any major radiation exposure, the North County Times reported.

According to Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander, the man was leaning over to pick up a flashlight he had dropped when he lost his balance and fell into the Unit 2 reactor pool, the Associated Press reported. The pool, 20 feet deep, was filled with water that circulates through the reactor core.

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“He was wearing all of the appropriate safety equipment, including a life preserver vest. We immediately began a thorough medical screening to determine if there had been any injury,” Alexander said, the North County Times reported.

Officials said workers removed the highly radioactive uranium fuel that usually sits at the bottom of the pool earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported. Without the fuel, the most likely source of deadly radiation would be from stray fuel particles floating in the water, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks told the North County Times reported.

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The worker, a veteran of the plant and well known, was decontaminated and tests were conducted to determine whether he swallowed any dangerous particles. Initial tests showed there was no significant radiation exposure, however.

Edison will go over its procedures working around the reactor pool and may require that workers tie off with ropes to a surrounding structure in order to prevent the incident again, the North County Times reported.

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