Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Error at lab spreads nuclear material Contamination from Los Alamos found in 4 states

[A longer version than the AP story]

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

The apparent mishandling of a potentially hazardous radioactive substance by an employee of the University of California-run Los Alamos National Laboratory has resulted in contamination of sites in four states, according to a report released Monday.

Traces of the substance have been found in homes in Colorado and Kansas that the Los Alamos employee visited, his own home in New Mexico, and also at the Pennsylvania laboratory where the employee apparently shipped a contaminated package via FedEx.

Los Alamos doctors are monitoring the health of the employee and five lab colleagues who might have been contaminated by the substance, radioactive americium-241. So far, none show ill effects, lab officials said Monday.

[...]

Full Story


Comments:
(AP) Los Alamos Geniuses Discover New Uses For Radioactive Metals

Since the nation learned that americium is harmless due to a fortuitous accidental contamination event, intrepid Los Alamos scientists have seized on the opportunity to increase their budgets and help dispose of the nation's legacy piles of radioactive crap. "We've found that the general public is willing to accept higher radiation exposures. Why not give the people what they want? We've responded to this proven market need with GlowStrips", said an anonymous Lab official.

GlowStrips are the kind of thing most people wonder "Now, why didn't I think of that?". But only the crack eggheads at LANL are in a position to produce and market GlowStrips, made from sweepings and tailings at the newly commissioned plutonium pit fabrication facility.

"We think GlowStrips are the first in a long line of LANL consumer products" said the same anonymous official. "Now, no more stumbling around in the dark in your house, trailer, boat, or RV. Just slap these babies down anywhere. Cuts down on heating bills too."

This surprise development was met with a hasty press conference by Sandia, who announced their latest consumer initiative, not to be outdone. The SkinRenuer paste and tool kit was debuted as an alternative to costly botox and facial peeling cosmetic treatments. It composition was not disclosed by Sandia officials, citing intellectual property concerns. The SkinRenuer tool is rumored to be powered by a micromachined neutron generator, but Sandia attorneys would not confirm or deny this report.
 
"Los Alamos doctors are monitoring the health of the employee and five lab colleagues who might have been contaminated by the substance, radioactive americium-241...."

Who is monitoring the health of all the people who might have come in contact with the package shipped to PA? Or all of the people who crossed paths with this nitwit between Los Alamos and Colorado, or Kansas? Or the residents of Los Alamos, White Rock, and Santa Fe? It seems to me that if this guy had enough material to contaminate houses in Colorado and Kansas that just maybe a little bit of stuff may have come off between here and there!

And as far Lab propaganda officials letting us know that the 6 people they are monitoring don't show any "ill effects," that's quite encouraging considering that it may take +20 years to show a radiation-induced effect!
 
Notice it's the employee who's going to take the fall - not LANL management and procedures.
 
Personally, I'm more concerned about getting hit by a drunk driver between here and Santa Fe than coming in contact with Am-241
being left between "here and there."
 
The employee should be responsible because he didn't follow procedures.
 
Why should there be a procedure to monitor the outside of the bag, when the contamination involved is harmless? Someone is not making sense. There is a procedure for monitoring because there is a risk. If there is no risk, there is no need of the procedure. The worker cannot be held responsible for not following a procedure which the management says is not necessary, by virtue of the contamination being harmless. Tough to have it both ways, isn't it?
 
Dear Anonymous 8/09/2005 07:53:54 PM,

It's obvious that you know nothing about working in an industrial nuclear environment. Quit trying to make hay with ridiculous posts that do nothing but stir the pot.
 
First came the Am-241 incident, and now comes the chemical inhalation fiasco.
Put a fork in it, UC management at LANL is done. DOE will go through the
motions of a competition this Fall, but LockMart will be our new bosses.
No amount of spin control from our current top management will be able to
turn this thing around. I hear the fat lady singing.
 
Well if the cowboys' could behave....
 
If Lock-Mart gets it, than nothing
will change. For a lab this size the
number of accidents is very low. You
know all those things that happen at
at Sandia and LLNL? No you do not since the do get reported on by the AP. Trust me kids it happens at these places also and some of the stuff would just blow you away. Of course the news media will not report stuff at Argonne, Oak Ridge, NIST or Sandia because no one has heard of them. The public would be
just "Sandia, whats that? Never heard of it" I just hope the public
knows about facts. Come on what is really relevant now in the world,
the missing person in Aruba, the fugtive in the south, lung cancer,
or ya the space shuttle. Come on people if it is in the news it means
nothing anymore. LANL is the safest
and the best lab. I think even if
Lock Mart gets it will reamain the same. We need some reality checks.
I know after Nanos people think anything goes, still keep reality in mind. In the end Nanos was the one who looks like a fool.
 
Speaking of safety at LLNL, I'll repost what I wrote under the NIF thread. Don't worry, morons abound.
As an LLNL employee, I'm appalled at the lack of safety and basic common sense around this place. Case in point: last November, a researcher, helped by a tech, uses his hands, three different kinds of hammers, tape, and finally a heat source to remove a cobalt-57 source from a collimator. They manage to release radioactive powder, without radiological controls, in a shop not even authorized to work with radioactive materials, before the big OOPS. But we can handle NIF...
 
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