Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2014
An October 14 accident at the Erwin ResinSolutions nuclear waste processing facility in Erwin, Tennessee, led to the death of one employee and exposed other employees and emergency responders to reportedly small amounts of radiation. ResinSolutions employee Gary Reedy, 51, fell 25 feet down a concrete hole into a “transfer vault” where radioactive resins from commercial nuclear power facilities are unloaded before being moved for treatment and packaging. The cause of his fall is under internal investigation by ResinSolutions’ parent company, Utah-based EnergySolutions, as well as the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state’s Department of Environment and Conservation.
According to Ed Herndon, Unicoi County Emergency Management Services Director, an ambulance crew and the local volunteer fire department responded to the 911 call, and these first responders as well as other ResinSolutions employees removed Reedy from the vault. He was then taken to Johnson City Medical Center, where he died of his injuries. Reedy, the first responders, and other employees who pulled him from the vault all got what Herndon called “a small amount” of radioactive material on them.
EnergySolutions is an international radioactive waste processing company and is the Energy Department contractor in charge of packing Los Alamos National Laboratory waste for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), including the mislabeled barrel that burst and caused the leak that closed the facility in February. (See WIPP article on Page 1.)
—Erwin Record, Oct. 14, Nov. 6; Knoxville News-Sentinal, Oct. 15, 2014