So much for badges

  Between 1953 and 1967, workers at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver, Colo., were either incorrectly monitored for radiation or not monitored at all. Now, the Department of Energy is telephoning hundreds of current and former employees at the closed weapons plant to tell them they were exposed to more radiation than anyone knew. Mark Silverman, manager of DOE's Rocky Flats field office, told the Washington Post that examinations show "modest" margins of error in monitoring radiation exposure to workers. "So far the results are encouraging, although that doesn't make any of the employees feel any better," Silverman said. "Understandably, some of them are asking, "how can we trust you at all?" "''''During the "50s and "60s, while Dow Chemical was contractor at the plant, workers wore badges made of neutron-sensitive film. But during a routine check of old records, agency researchers discovered that the procedure used for reading the film badges was inaccurate. Technicians are now sifting through 95,000 old film badges in Denver and doing "dose reconstruction" histories to find out how much cumulative radiation workers actually received. As part of Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary's campaign for openness, the DOE says it will survey records at other nuclear sites around the country as well.

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