For those who travel and live in the Grand Valley,
HAZMAT in USA on Friday, 17 May, 2013 at 04:58 (04:58 AM) UTC.
Description Public health officials are trying to determine who threw away a small source of radioactive material somewhere in the Grand Valley in western Colorado.
They are worried people who came in contact with a small piece of Radium-226 may have been exposed to dangerously high doses of radiation. The material was found when the radiation tripped an alarm as a city trash truck entered the Mesa County Solid Facility on April 24. Radium-226 emits twice as much radiation in one hour as the safe exposure limit set for it in an entire year. If a person was exposed to the Radium-226 source for 15 hours in one year it could pose a chronic health risk, according to health officials. Steve Tarlton, manager of radiation programs for the state Health Department, said Thursday radium has been collected and studied for more than a century, and many people who collected it may not be aware it could be dangerous. He said the primary danger is from exposure to people who came in contact with it, and there is little danger of it spreading.
"These are very dangerous radiation levels, but the main concern is not for the general public. It is for the individual who was in possession of the material before it was discovered by the city. We want to talk to whoever disposed of this material so we can learn more about the person's potential exposure and others who might have been exposed. We also want to confirm whether or not other hazardous materials remain in that person's home or office," said Dr. Christopher Urbina, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Health Department. Tarlton said many landfills have set up detectors at their gates to detect radioactive materials, but it's up to local governments to decide what levels of radiation they will accept. Environmental groups did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.
The small metal piece that was found is about the size of a small piece of candy. The radium was found in a piece of folded tape that may have been inside a PVC pipe labeled "Source." The pipe was about three inches in diameter and a foot to a foot and a half long.