[ RadSafe ] container with cobalt 60 source in Genoa - Italy

BRISSON Nicolas nicolas.brisson at irsn.fr
Wed Jan 19 10:55:40 CST 2011

Thanks to all who answered my post.

Here the abstract of the news event from AIEA website (2010-08-13).
On July 20th, at the port of Genova Voltri, an elevated gamma rate was
detected in corrispondence of a container of metal scraps. Radiometric
measures revealed the presence of a Co-60 source, with an hot -spot of
gamma dose rate of 600 mSv/h at contact with one wall of the container,
about 40 mSv/h at one meter and 100 microSievert/h at 25 meters from the
container wall. Moreover, radiometric survey around the container showed
that from the other sides of the container the dose rate level was in
the range from 20 to 80 microSievert/h. Smear sample measurements did
not show any contamination on the container walls. A rough estimation
gave e source activity ranging from 150 to 200 GBq.
A safety exclusion zone was established around the container. 
The container arrived on July 13th from the port of Jeddah (Saudi
Arabia), shipped by a company based in Ajman (United Arab Emirates).
During the trip the shipping vessel stopped at the Gioia Tauro port. 
No information is currently available on the container before it was
loaded at the Jeddah port.
Potential doses attributable to the workers of the Terminal were
evaluated  with conservative assumptions. The effective dose received by
each person in the harbor area has been estimated to be less than 1
milliSievert. The highest effective doses are those received by the
operator responsible for the removal of the container legs during the
unloading of the container from the ship (225 microSievert). No people
outside the harbor area were involved.
As a precautionary measure and with the aim to reassure the people,
about thirty-five workers were identified and subjected to medical
examination and some clinical analysis. Other workers asked for medical
check. A total of about eighty workers were examined and subjected to
clinical analysis.
The Prefecture of Genova  is responsible for public information and for
the safe management of the event with the support of Fire Brigades Corp,
The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection and the National
Institute for Environmental Protection and Research. According to
national legislative provision, the prefecture is also managing the
activities aimed at preparing for the safe return of the container to
the shipper, in compliance with international regulations on the
transport of radioactive materials.
Investigation activities are in progress under the coordination of the
Office of Public Prosecution. A specific project for the source
identification and recovery is under preparation.

I was certainly a bit harsh with the journalist when I said that he "had
no real clue" about what he was writing. He just can't copy information
Between such mistakes and what you can see on TV in some "scientific"
movies or soaps (cobalt 60 for dental Xray is my last memory of it -
remember I am in France and see NCIS and so on almost one year after
they are shown on US TV), we end up with people fearing radioactivity
more than they should and telling you a liar because they know better
thanks to TV and newspapers.

I'm sorry for this rant and thanks again for the information provided. 
And I had never encountered 600 mSv/h outside of a container, even if it
is only a spot. That's what gotten my interest in this event.


Nicolas Brisson
route du Panorama
tel : +33 1-58-35-87-24
por :  +33 6-08-76-55-32

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