Saturday, July 30, 2005

LANL Tests More Sites for Radiation

By Adam Rankin

Journal Staff Writer

Federal and laboratory radiological specialists are checking two locations out of state as a precaution to see if a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher contaminated by radioactive americium-241 may have spread the contamination beyond his house and car.

While he would not say where the team was dispatched, lab spokesman Jim Fallin said the contaminated researcher visited his wife and mother and may have spread the contamination to those locations.

"We know we are dealing with an issue related to contamination, and we are going to exercise extreme caution and take the conservative route," he said. "We want to go with the most conservative approaches here and make absolutely certain we are doing what we can to protect the general public."

LANL officials have said this week that due to the small levels of americium detected off lab property, the contamination poses no credible risk to the general public.

A radiological team also surveyed three other homes in Los Alamos County in addition to the researcher's home, where some contamination was discovered and removed earlier this week.


Full Story

How many locations can be contaminated with a trace amount before someone adds up all the traces and realized there might have been more than a trace amount released in the first place?
Poster 12:10 pm, you need to realize that the current state-of-the-art in
making measurements of these things is extremely accurate. That's why
a trace amount can be tracked through a wide variety of locations. Perhaps
you should spend some time "googling" the subject of modern chemical
measurement techniques and see just how far it has advanced. I find the
current ability of scientist to measure these things at such minute levels
truly mind-boggling.
7/30/2005 04:06:40 PM said:
"Poster 12:10 pm, you need to realize that the current state-of-the-art in
making measurements of these things is extremely accurate. That's why
a trace amount can be tracked through a wide variety of locations."

Look at other environmental measurements the Lab makes. LANL is always getting into trouble for reporting measurements well below action limits. Sometimes you can be too good.
The "gamma shine" of Am 241 is one of the easiest radioactive signatures to detect. Indeed, it can be recognized at levels of 10s of disintegrations/minute, meaning picocuries. The good side of this is that the trail can be traced very accurately. On the other hand, as the previous posters note, the original contaminated worker could have touched hundreds of items! The total contamination appears to be as reported -- microcuries at most.
May We Introduce Ourselves?

As we are many paramecium,
We do not mind this americium

Sparkly dust to light our way
Gently glow our ciliae

Neutron, gamma, electroweak
Our genes are splitting, so to speak
No more slime, its mutant time!
Up from muddy puddles, climb!

Soon you'll see us on the mesas
Looming, green, dos cabezas
Fanged, rolling, in your faces
There will be no hiding places

Sing the song of ancient strife!
Claw and club, spear and knife.

Species come, and species go.
We are paramecium. We know.
Locations out of state!!!!! Hey LANL/UC, how about doing a little checking at Smith's or Metzger's and giving us an all clear (VERY PUBLIC ALL CLEAR) that the "trace" amounts didn't contaminate our kids?

I won't hold my breath. My guess is that your next statement will tell us not to be concerned because the quantity of the release was less than the total amount of Americium in all the smoke detectors in North Dakota, or some similar Happy Face bull****.
We’ve got Federal rules against spreading this stuff (20dpm/100cm2 loose; 500 or 100 fixed). We’ve got draconian rules that prevent the stuff from being removed. (Check with the RCT, training, procedures, postings, labels, 10CFR20, 49CFR,, radon manuals, etc). This TSM willfully violated the regs. This is worse than non-missing disks; but who will get fired? I don’t know , because we are in a personality-leadership culture versus a value-based leadership culture.

OK hands up; besides retirement, why is a university a good choice to run a complicated organization that is already way-too personality based and will keep a dude on that can’t read a rad label? If we are so weak to let a Nanos run this place, anything can happen.
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