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RADIATION SCARES


Title: Survey Equipment Causes Radiation Scare At Federal Building
Date: May 17, 2011
Source: Boston.com

Abstract: A piece of antiquated survey equipment that was stored on the first floor of the Tip O'Neill Federal Building leaked radiation this afternoon, triggering a massive emergency response in the heart of Boston shortly before tonight's Boston Bruins playoff game.

Two Federal Protective Service police officers were in the area when the radiation dosimeter tags they were wearing began to sound an alarm. Firefighters were summoned to the scene at 4:11 p.m., said Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.

The police officers were isolated and a Level 3 hazardous materials incident was declared. A day care center in the building was evacuated. Firefighters swept the area using radiation detection equipment and found there was no danger from the leak, MacDonald said. No one was injured and decontamination was not necessary.

The device, a decades-old piece of surveying equipment that was only a little bigger than a shoebox, was isolated and packaged, and the fire department was awaiting the arrival of officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. The federal agency was expected to call in a contractor to remove the device, MacDonald said.

MacDonald stressed that there was no public health hazard and most emergency personnel had cleared the scene by 6 p.m. He did not know the type of chemical or radiation that was released. The building is home to a multitude of different federal agencies. Officials did not immediately know who owned the surveying equipment (Boston.com, 2011).

Title: No Radiation Hazard Found After Truck Checked
Date: November 29, 2011
Source:
NECN News

Abstract: Authorities in Boston say they found no hazard after inspecting a cargo truck carrying radioactive medical material.

The inspection Tuesday morning temporarily shut down the nearby Haymarket subway station and rerouted street traffic.

Associated Couriers Inc. said in a statement that its truck, which was properly marked, had stopped to pick up more documentation needed for international shipment of three containers of radioactive special form material it was taking from Burlington, Mass., to New York's JFK airport.

Police and fire officials said the truck was stopped for a routine commercial vehicle check and its radiation level checked as a precaution (NECN News, 2011)

Title: Idaho Nuclear Lab Fined After Workers Exposed To Radiation
Date: October 4, 2012
Source:
News Daily

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Energy fined a nuclear research lab in Idaho more than $400,000 on Thursday for multiple safety violations stemming from two mishaps last year that caused workers to be contaminated with radiation.

"DOE considers these events to be of high safety significance," John Boulden, a director of enforcement and oversight for the Energy Department in Washington, D.C., wrote in the violation notice issued to the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls.

He was referring to two incidents in 2011 that exposed employees to radiation at the nation's leading nuclear research and development center, which is operated by contractor Battelle Energy Alliance.

The lab was fined for failure to prevent contamination of a worker's hand in August 2011. In November 2011, 16 workers were also exposed to low-level plutonium radiation while preparing fuel plates for shipping suffered no adverse health effects.

Workers who tested positive for radioactive contamination, including two who inhaled radioactive particles, showed dosages below Energy Department occupational limits and federal regulatory limits, said lab health director Sharon Dossett.

"As it turned out, the doses were fairly small - and that was fortuitous," she said.

Dossett said several of the workers have sought counseling for anxiety triggered by the incident.

"The magnitude and duration of the uncontrolled plutonium release presented a high potential for an adverse impact on worker safety," Boulden wrote about the accident.

An Energy Department investigation released this year faulted the lab for failing to properly assess risks posed by the handling of decades-old plutonium fuel cells and for not activating its emergency plan sooner after the exposure.

Battelle had rated the chance of a mishap like the one that occurred as "extremely unlikely," the report found.

In the violation notice issued on Thursday, federal regulators found Battelle failed to perform real-time air monitoring in November 2011 "to detect and provide early warning to individuals of events that could lead to substantial unplanned exposures to airborne radioactivity."

Idaho National Laboratory has implemented 59 of 79 corrective actions - which include upgraded air monitoring. It intends to make the rest of the changes by the end of the year, spokesman Ethan Huffman said.

The laboratory would not appeal the $412,500 fine, which will be paid by Battelle, he said.

The Energy Department has cited the lab for safety or other violations at least three times since 2007, records show (News Daily, 2012).

Title: Radioactive Kitchenware Shipment Ordered Out Of Canada
Date:
October 13, 2012
Source:
Yahoo News

Abstract:
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered that a small shipment of radioactive kitchenware, that found its way to the Port of Montreal, be taken out of the country.

The CNSC issued an order on Oct. 5, demanding that the contaminated container be sent back to India by Hanjin Shipping Canada — the company that delivered the cargo to Montreal's port last May.

André Régimbald, the director of nuclear substance regulations for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said "this was a relatively low-risk package or container and therefore, there was no need at that time to take immediate strong measures to get the container out of the port."

According to the order issued to Hanjin Shipping Canada, the utensils inside the two-cubic-foot box are contaminated with Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope often used for medical radiation.

The Canadian Borders Services Agency (CBSA) found the merchandise during routine scans performed on incoming cargo.

Régimbald said the kitchenware's radioactivity could stem from a failure to properly recycle medical devices.

"There could have been a source that is used in medical devices," he said. "[Devices] to treat cancer, are very high-level sources and the replacement and disposal…is extremely regulated and it is possible that the source was inadvertently misplaced or misdisposed and found its way in the recycling industry, was melted with other metals and the metal was used to produce all sorts of manufactured goods."

The safety commission said the material does not pose any risk to the health and safety of workers or the environment in its current location but would rather see the package sent away than seeing its contents accidentally travel to distributors.

Régimbald said Canada has seen an increase in contaminated packages coming from Asia since 2011.

According to the commission, the CBSA has intercepted about 15 shipments with radiation levels, above the permitted threshold since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown in Japan. Most of these cargos were sent to Vancouver.

Régimbald said that in most cases, the radiation was on the outside of the shipping containers and not within.

"We had a few cases like that but the Japanese authorities dealt with it and dealt with the problem," he said.

Hanjin Shipping Canada has until 12 p.m. on Oct. 26 to remove the container from Canada.

Gordon Edwards, spokesman for the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility said "I think it shows that our regulator is really lax, that they don't act very quickly and also act with a lot of due deliberation because simply sending it back to where it came from, there's no guarantee that it won't be sent to some other consumer somewhere else in the world."

Gérimbald said the Indian authorities have been advised by the commission that there may be a problem with the control of radioactive sources and contamination in household products (Yahoo News, 2012).