Tuesday, February 7, 2012

[Alert] West Chester, Pa: Hershey's Mill Retirement Community: 100 R/hr Source And Death From Infection

Previously we reported on an NRC event report concerning an old ONE HUNDRED REM PER HOUR Radium 226 source which was left in a public area and later discovered at a recycling facility. That NRC event report indicated that the 100 R/hr source was NOT "to be of concern from a radiological standpoint". Hopefully, those of you who read the blog understood how corrupt the public safety aspects of such a report really are.

To put the 100 Rem/Hr dose rate in context; "At whole body doses near 400 rem, if no medical attention is given, about 50% of the people are expected to die within 60 days of the exposure, due mostly from infections". Given that kind of boundary condition, it hardly seems in the best interest of public safety for the NRC event report to state that 100 Rem/hour source is of no radiological concern.

Of course given that this source was left out in public at a RETIREMENT VILLAGE, who exactly is going to question if some old people die of infections in the coming weeks? So what are the odds of a whole body 400 rem dose at a retirement village from a 100 Rem/Hr discrete source? We would wager that they are good enough that a wise personal injury attorney would seek an autopsy for anyone at the retirement village who dies in the next few months.

Fortunately at least someone in Pennsylvania is trying to do a tiny bit to alert the people who may have come into contact with the source. Here is the relevant excerpt from the press release-

DEP health physicists worked with Waste Management to properly evaluate and store the radium, and traced its source to a roll-off container that had come from the Hershey's Mill retirement community in West Chester.
The radium-226 was contained in four capsules inside a small lead safe marked "Radium Chemical Co., Inc." The safe and some antique surgical equipment were stored inside a larger, locking metal box, which had been pried open. 
"Although the capsules do not appear to be leaking, we believe that someone could have had direct contact with these sources of radium-226," Allard said. "The radioactive radium they contain is about five times the amount found in modern medical sources, and we are concerned about the health of anyone who may have handled them."
Anyone with information about the kit is asked to contact Allard at 717-787-2480. All calls are confidential. To view photos of the lead safe and other contents of the box, visit and click on "Bureau of Radiation Protection."

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