In Memoriam: Peter V. O'Connell


Joel Rabovsky, CHP, and Katharine McLellan

Peter V. O'Connell, CHP, passed away on 5 May 2013. Pete was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on 15 March 1959 and resided in New Market, Maryland, since 1993. Pete was a health physicist for the Department of Energy (DOE) for 21 years.

Pete was a graduate of the Southeastern Massachusetts University, where he earned a BS in biological sciences in 1981, and the University of Lowell, where he earned an MS in health physics in 1987. In the time between obtaining his BS and MS degrees, Pete served on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, as a commissioned officer, from April 1982 to May 1984.

While pursuing his master's degree, Pete worked as a chemistry and health physics technician at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Connecticut. After obtaining his master's degree, Pete worked for Nuclear Energy Services as a radiological controls engineer. In June 1988, Pete accepted a position with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as a radiation specialist. In this capacity, he inspected radiation protection programs at nuclear reactors and fuel facilities to assess compliance with NRC's radiation protection requirements. Four years later, Pete moved to the DOE as a health physicist. Soon after arriving at DOE, Pete obtained certification by the American Board of Health Physics in power reactor health physics.

Pete was a plenary member of the Health Physics Society since 1987. Additionally, he was an active member of the Baltimore Washington Chapter and served in the chapter's First Responder Assistance Training program.

During his time at the DOE, Pete's efforts focused on the development of the DOE's occupational radiation protection Rule, 10 CFR 835, and the associated guides and technical standards needed to implement the rule's requirements. Because of his expertise and experience in health physics, he routinely served on teams investigating or assisting in the various aspects of the radiological protection programs throughout DOE. As a result, Pete was well known and respected throughout the DOE complex.

His technical skills were not the only qualities that made Pete such a valued colleague. His humor and positive attitude enhanced any situation, and he never hesitated to help anyone who asked him for assistance.

Outside of the workplace, Pete was dedicated to his family, active in his church, and a participant in many community activities, routinely volunteering at the local homeless shelter and donating blood and blood platelets. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Surviving Pete are his two daughters and their mother, his mother, and his four siblings.