WASHINGTON - Regulators are investigating
whether the radiation exposure was higher than originally estimated
for workers who accidentally carried on their clothes tiny
radioactive particles out of an Ohio nuclear power plant.
Estimates of exposure by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
differed from the assessment of the plant operator, the NRC said
Five workers left the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in February with
the particles, which were found in hotel rooms and homes in at least
three other states, according to FirstEnergy Corp., which operates
the plant near Toledo.
The company had said that the particles, which are too small to
see, didn't pose a health risk because they generated low level
Viktoria Mitlyng, an NRC spokeswoman, said urine and fecal
samples indicate that the workers inhaled the particles, which means
dose estimates could be much higher.
``We can't conclude what the internal exposure was until we take
a look at exactly what particles were inhaled and how large those
particles were,'' Mitlyng said.
While the situation is unusual, particles have been carried out
of other plants before and the workers in question are healthy and
still working, Mitlyng said.
Workers typically wear protective clothing in nuclear plants,
then remove their suits in a safe area where they are screened to
make sure radioactive particles do not escape. The NRC investigation
earlier found that one of the three devices used to screen workers
had been improperly