NRC: San Onofre Worker Returned To Work After Fall Into Nuclear Reactor Pool

SAN CLEMENTE (CBS) — An employee at the San Onofre nuclear plant fell into a reactor pool last week, but did not present any radiation threat, federal regulators said Friday.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports the news marks the second recent incident at the plant northern San Diego County .

Victor Dricks with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the unidentified employee did not receive a significant radiation dose after he lost his balance while leaning over to retrieve a flashlight and fell into the reactor pool in Unit 2 on Jan. 27.

“The exposure came largely because he ingested or swallowed a little bit of the water that was in the pool that had some residual contamination in it,” said Dricks. “He got an exposure that was probably equivalent to a chest x-ray.”

The worker was reportedly wearing a life preserver when he fell into the pool’s 23-foot-deep water that circulates through the reactor core.

He was pulled to safety by co-workers and was not injured.

Once he was examined and determined to have been exposed to 5 millirems of radiation — which is not considered a major dose — he was ordered back to work the same day.

Earlier this week, the San Onofre plant announced a water leak in Unit 3 that may have released a small amount of radiation into the environment.

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