Offshore workers fear cancer after radiation exposure


OFFSHORE ENERGY TODAY: Six offshore workers were exposed to radiation during work on an EnQuest-operated platform in the UK North Sea.

According to Unite, a UK maritime and offshore workers’ union, six Wood Group workers claim they were put at risk by the potentially dangerous particles while carrying out maintenance work on the Thistle offshore platform last December.

In a statement on Monday, Unite wrote: “They (the workers) had been contacted by rig operator EnQuest to remove pipework when they were made to work in close proximity to the material. The men were under the impression that proper risk assessments had been carried out ahead of their arrival. But they were only told 12 hours into the job that the environment they were working in was unsafe.”

Unite has also quoted Steve Innes, a rigging supervisor from Sunderland, who was among the affected workers: “It was a shutdown so there was a lot of potential contamination. But we were all cleared to go back to work. So we spent a full 12-hour shift, with no protective equipment, in 40mph winds with all those particles in the air. All the dust was all over the scaffold. We received our permits to say all the tests had been done and we were safe.”

“When we got back they told us we should be safe but that they couldn’t guarantee that we wouldn’t develop cancer or leukaemia further down the line because of the exposure. It’s a terrible situation. We were told they broke their procedures but not much else has been done. They have totally left their care of duty to their staff. It’s totally unacceptable,” Unite quoted Innes as saying.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to EnQuest seeking comment.

The company’s spokesperson said: “EnQuest can confirm that, in December 2016, during planned shutdown activities on its Thistle platform, six personnel employed by Wood Group under a contract with EnQuest were removing a piece of pipework when they were exposed to low levels of NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material).

“The level of exposure was less than 1% of the level at which it is reportable to the Health and Safety Executive however EnQuest advised the HSE of the matter at the time. EnQuest has appropriate control measures in place which are designed to prevent exposure to NORM. Following an investigation, additional precautionary steps have been taken to further ensure that personnel avoid any such exposure.”

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