June 7, 2000

Mallinckrodt incidents investigated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

* Dec. 31, 1996: Mallinckrodt's Maryland Heights plant ships a generator to Saginaw, Mich., with surface radiation levels of 210 millirems per hour, 10 millirems over the maximum allowed. The NRC scolds Mallinckrodt for not finding the root cause of the contamination, calling it a "significant concern to the NRC."

Status: Mallinckrodt paid a fine of $13,750.

* May 14-15, 1997: An employee doing cleanup work receives a shallow dose exposure of 480 rads to his left thumb. The exposure is suspected to have occurred when the worker handled contaminated materials with a faulty glove. The exposed employee's contamination is discovered when he returns to work. He had carried contamination out of the building and into his home because he failed to properly survey himself before leaving the day before. The worker's vehicle and items in his home are found to be contam inated and are removed.

Status: Mallinckrodt paid a fine of $27,500.

* May 29, 1997: Hospital in Darby, Pa., receives a package from a Mallinckrodt Pharmacy in Folcroft, Pa., that developed excess radiation levels during transport.

Status: Mallinckrodt paid a fine of $27,500, which was doubled because it was a repeat violation.

* July 8, 1997: Two packages exceeding radiation limits are sent, one to Pinebrook, N.J., (250 millirem/hr) and one to Folcroft, Pa., (240 millirem/hr).

Status: Mallinckrodt paid a fine of $27,500.

* Oct. 10, 1997: A hospital in Detroit accidentally ships back to Mallinckrodt an empty contaminated container.

Status: Mallinckrodt was found not at fault and was assessed no fine.

* Nov. 17, 1999: Xenon 133, a radioactive gas used in lung imaging, is released into the process room. Five workers breath the gas into their lungs, and a small amount of the gas is vented into the outside air. Mallinckrodt waits 50 hours before reporting the incident. The NRC says Mallinckrodt's response to the release is appropriate but finds the company in violation of regulations requiring it to report the event within one hour.

Status: Mallinckrodt was assessed no fine but was put on "escalated enforcement."

* March 31, 2000: A ring monitor on a worker's finger shows a higher than usual radiation exposure. A company investigation discovers the worker handled radioactive material with a gloved hand and suffered an over-exposure 40 times the annual limit.

Status: Investigation pending. The event causes the company to survey other departments where ring monitors are used, thus uncovering dozens of possible exposures. The company notifies the NRC, which is investigating. So far, investigators have found 14 other workers in Mallinckrodt's plant had been exposed since 1995 to radiation exceeding the annual 50-rem limit.

Compiled By Virginia Baldwin Gilbert
Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission