[ RadSafe ] Indian radioactive metal found in Germany

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Feb 17 12:19:34 CST 2009

>The magazine quoted unnamed experts from the environment ministry
saying the affair had a "huge dimension."

What, the affair is very wide?  It is much higher than expected?  

Many years ago some steel contaminated with Co-60 made it into a number
of products in the USA (as I understand it, some foundries use Co-60
sources behind the refractory brick as a way of telling when the brick
has eroded away so much that it needs to be replaced, and sometimes
these sources wind up in the steel).  While most of the items were
really of no concern (though I believe all that could be found were
gathered up for disposal), there were some that really did present an
ALARA issue.  These were the legs for those pedestal type tables that
they have in bars and clubs, where the tables are so small that you sit
with your knees on either side of the single leg.  The activity in was
high enough that when one of my coworkers went to one of the clubs that
had received these tables, his instrument started showing above
background while still in the parking lot.  

Given that the exposure from these tables was rather focused on the
gonads, I have to agree that getting them out of circulation was a good
idea.  On the other hand, if one is spending enough time sitting at a
table in a bar that one would get significant dose from this source,
there are perhaps lifestyle choices that present higher risk than

Still, I guess the lesson is that when spending time in a bar, one
should be aware of the risk posed by unusually hot legs.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2009 1:47 AM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Indian radioactive metal found in Germany


Indian radioactive metal found in Germany
Published: 15 Feb 09 14:40 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090215-17449.html
German authorities have discovered more than 150 tonnes of radioactive
metal imported from foundries in India in 12 federal states, according
to a report by news magazine Der Spiegel.

Citing an internal memo from the federal environment ministry, the
magazine reported that some five tonnes of high-grade steel shavings
exceeded the legally allowed contamination limits so greatly that they
had to be handed over to the Association of Nuclear Service (GNS) which
is responsible for the disposal of waste from nuclear power plants. 

The magazine quoted unnamed experts from the environment ministry saying
the affair had a "huge dimension."

A spokeswoman from the German environment ministry on Saturday confirmed
the report but played down the severity of the incidents.

"You can't really speak of a dramatic situation. But we're taking the
problem very seriously also because it has significant economic
ramifications for the affected companies."

The ministry said the material posed no environmental or health threat
and added that no consumer products in Germany were affected. "Most of
the steel deliveries contain contamination levels below the legally
allowed limits," it said in a statement on Sunday.

Representatives from the companies that imported the contaminated metal
from India are to meet with ministry officials in the coming week.

According to the newsweekly, the material bearing traces of Cobalt-60
came from three Indian foundries and ended up in 12 of Germany's 16
federal states. The magazine said authorities were aware of
contamination in high-grade steel wires, machinery, scrap metal sheets,
valves and castings. 

The report said the first contaminated delivery was discovered in 2008
in a container full of high-grade steel bars at the Hamburg port. 

Radioactive products from India were also discovered last year in
France, Netherlands and Sweden.

DPA/The Local (news at thelocal.de)

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