April 29, 1997

Mr. James M. Owendoff,
Deputy Ass't. Secretary for Environmental Restoration
Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585
Fax: 202-586-7757

Dear Mr. Owendoff:

1) It has been brought to the attention of FACTS that there was a near fatal accident at the Linde/Praxair worksite. This happened about a week or so ago and involved four DOE subcontractor workers decontaminating Building 14. They were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a propane driven device being run in the containment area. No paramedics or other medical personnel were called to aid these workers. The next day, they were sent to the hospital. It is reported that now the job has been shut down for safety reasons until a new safety program is put into place. Or has some other unexpected problem arisen?

2) At a past meeting with DOE, prior to DOE starting the cleanup, Ron Kirk assured us that all preparations were made and that an emergency plan was set up with Kenmore Mercy Hospital in case of any accidents or problems. Yet, apparently, this plan of action was not used. Why not?

3) There have been three breaches of the containment area so far that we are aware of. In each case, unprotected Linde/Praxair workers were exposed to radioactively contaminated dust that was allowed to escape into their work areas.

4) When FACTS questioned you about the ability of the decontamination workers to do the job properly, you assured us that they had been well trained in this field of expertise. This does not appear to be the case.

5) As a side note: Many surveys have been conducted at the Linde/Praxair site. I note below three radiological surveys in particular that were done in the past:

The first was done by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in October and November of 1976;

The second was done by Ford, Bacon, & Davis Utah, Inc. in December 1981;

The third was done Oak Ridge Associated Universities in 1981.

In the final summary of these three surveys, it was noted (in part) that the radiological condition of Building 14 was that it was free of contamination. Later, the truth came out.

When DOE first set out to decontaminate Building 14, we were told that it would take a couple of months. Now, a year later, with several million dollars spent and hundreds of man hours expended, we are no closer to the goal than we were when we first started. All this for a building that is assessed at $322,000.

An immediate reply is requested. If not, then we will assume the information that we have received is factual.


Don Finch, Editor
FACTS Newsletter
Box 566 Kenmore, NY 14217-0566