Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://apo.ansto.gov.au/dspace/handle/10238/13104
Title: Report of the committee of inquiry into a fire which occurred on 18 March 1987 in a radioisotope processing cell, Building 54 at the Lucas Heights Research Laboratories
Authors: Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment Lucas Heights
Keywords: ANSTO
Accidents
New South Wales
Australia
Chemicals
Uranium
Irradiation
Filters
Fires
Contamination
Remedial action
Decontamination
Issue Date: 25-Mar-1987
Publisher: Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment Lucas Heights
Citation: Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment Lucas Heights (1987). Report of the committee of inquiry into a fire which occurred on 18 March 1987 in a radioisotope processing cell, Building 54 at the Lucas Heights Research Laboratories. Lucas Heights, NSW : Australian Atomic Energy Commission Research Establishment, Lucas Heights.
Abstract: l. At about 1745 hours on Wednesday, l8 March 1987 a fire occurred in a small charcoal filter inside a processing cell (hot cell) in Building 54 at the Lucas Heights Research Laboratories (LHRL). This cell was being used to process irradiated uranium to separate the radioactive isotope molybdenum—99. 2. The fire was not related to either of the two research reactors at the LHRL site. It was confined to the charcoal filter in the above mentioned cell, which is about 500 metres from the nuclear reactor HIFAR. 3. Some radioactive contamination escaped from the hot cell into the operating area and three AAEC officers were found to have minor radioactive contamination on their skin/hair. A fourth AAEC officer had a spot of contamination on his trousers. The contamination was short-lived and was quickly and easily removed by washing with soap and water. 4. The majority of the radioactive material released from the fire was trapped by the main filters outside the cell. The total amounts of radioactive noble gas and of radioiodine released to the environment during the week in which the fire occurred were within the normal range of discharge and were 53% and 2.1%, respectively, of the weekly limit authorised by the NSW Department of Health. 5. Early advice on the accident was provided to the Minister for Resources and Energy and to relevant State and Local Government Authorities. A representative of the NSW Department of Health was present at the Lucas Heights Research Laboratories on the evening of 18 March. 6. The Committee noted that the response to the accident by personnel of the AAEC and of NSW emergency organisations was prompt and effective. 7. A number of recommendations have been made by the Committee to avoid a similar occurrence and to make further improvements in the effectiveness of the emergency response. 8. On the evidence available to it, the Committee: . concludes that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion in the charcoal filter used to trap radioactive gases released by the operations in the hot cell, . concludes that the mechanism causing the fire cannot be clearly established at this stage and some further research and investigation is necessary to clarify the mechanism, . believes that no member of AAEC staff, NSW emergency services personnel or the general public suffered, or will suffer, any adverse health effects from radioactivity as a result of the accident.
Description: Physical copies held by ANSTO Library at 363.376509441/1(RSCA) and 363.376509441/1(R)
URI: https://apo.ansto.gov.au/dspace/handle/10238/13104
Appears in Collections:Scientific and Technical Reports

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