CEA Safety Officer To Police Projects

A safety officer will be policing all experiments at the Cambridge Electron Accelerator when work resumes there in November.

James M. Paterson, a research fellow at the accelerator, has been named its first safety director.

Paterson will have the power to stop any experiment he feels is not being conducted safety. But he predicted in an interview Sunday that his new post -- and new safety rules which are now being codified -- will not help prevent explosions like the one that shattered the CEA experimental hall July 5.

"The explosion was just one of those things," he said. "It's forced us to take a second look at all our safety procedures and plan for more formal policing of experiments, which isn't the most popular thing in the world. But I can't say that this is going to make such an accident less likely in the future."

Many CEA scientists now believe the explosion was touched up by liquid hydrogen which spilled while being fed into the experimental hall's bubble chamber. The CEA is considering requesting funds for a separate bubble chamber building on the grounds so that an accident would be much less destructive there than in the present hall. The chamber is now being re-assembled but will not be used by the Harvard-M.I.T. experimenters who being work in November.

The new safety rules, which will go into effect even though the bubble chamber will not be in use, are still being drafted. Paterson and a special Safety Committee of CEA staff members. They will include restrictions on the amount of fuel that can be used in the hall and on the places where fuel sources can be located, Paterson said.