On Friday, November 22, 2013, a truck carrying two radiography cameras crashed near Andrews, Texas. The initial report on the NRC website provided few details:
“On November 22, 2013, the Agency [Texas Department of State Health Services] received information from the Odessa, Texas, Emergency Management that an accident involving an industrial radiography truck carrying two radiography cameras had occurred near Andrews, Texas. The Agency contacted the licensee and they reported that the driver had hit a patch of ice on the road, lost control, and the truck turned over. Both of the cameras remained secured inside the transportation box in the truck’s darkroom. Another of the licensee’s radiographers was following the truck and maintained control of the cameras until the licensee’s staff came from Midland to pick them up. There were no exposures to any individual as a result of this event.
“On November 25, 2013, an Agency investigator learned from the licensee that the driver had been taken by ambulance to a local hospital’s emergency department following the accident. The driver was examined and released after approximately 5 hours. More information will be provided as it obtained in accordance with SA-300.”
The original posting raised a number of questions. First, the initial report said the incident occurred on November 22, but the Event Report did not hit the NRC site until Tuesday, December 3, a gap of eleven days. Why the delay?
Second, why was the initial report posted by Odessa Emergency Management? Odessa is about 35 miles froms Andrews. At meetings of the commission that oversees Texas’ low-level radioactive waste, much has been made of the money placed into emergency response in Andrews County, which is the site of the Waste Control Specialists rad waste dump. (Incidentally, WCS hates when you call their facility a dump, so I try to use the d-word as much as possible.) Why was the initial report not from Andrews County EMS?
Third, were the cameras bound for the dump? The dump is even further from Odessa than is the city of Andrews, being located 30 miles west of the city of Andrews, on the New Mexico border.
Fourth, why the meager details? The update, posted on December 27, made the accident sound more severe than the first report:
The vehicle rolled five times before stopping in the upright position. The darkroom stayed attached to the truck until the last rollover, it then became free from the truck and the exposure devices were dislodged from the transport box.
Finally, do we have any real assurance that we would get timely and accurate information about a major transportation accident? Doesn’t look that way to me.