Dump Watch: A look at what’s upstream….

As part of keeping track of the sorts of low level radioactive waste that might eventually be disposed of at the Waste Control Specialists’ dump in Andrews County, Texas, I’ve decided to post some of the items that show up on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Event Notification page. These reports frequently involved accidents involving radioactive sources, transportation issues and problems with poor record-keeping.

Here’s some of last week’s reports:

1. Last Monday, the Oregon Department of Health filed a report on a June 23 incident at Schnitzer Steel Industries in Portland, Oregon. Schnitzer reported the discovery of a cesium-137 sealed source in a shipment of scrap metal Schnitzer received from Idaho. Schnitzer’s radiation protection officers:

…found the gauge housing to be severely crushed, shutter damaged and partially open. One side of housing is split but compressed together. Identification plate still attached and mostly legible and given as follows: Manufacturer: Texas Nuclear; Model: 5197; Gauge housing serial number: B7951; Source: Cesium-137; Activity: Currently 65 mCi according to Thermo Fisher Scientific.

According to the Event Report:

The gauge will not be returned to the manufacturer according to Thermo and classified as waste. A waste broker will be contacted by Schnitzer for packaging and disposal.

Oh, great. That probably means this orphan source will be coming to WCS.

2. Also on Monday, the Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina reported an inventory discrepancy in its Special Nuclear Materials. According to the report:

On May 30, 2014, a discrepancy was found in the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station SNM inventory. After extensive review, it was determined on June 19, 2014 that one nuclear instrumentation incore detector could not be located at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Detectors of this type are used to measure incore neutron flux (intensity of neutron radiation) inside the reactor vessel.

Officials do not believe that the detector, which contains a small amount of U-235, has been lost or stolen. According to the report:

The detector is believed to be located in a storage location in the Reactor Building (RB). The RB storage location will be inspected during the next refueling outage.

3. Also on Monday, Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, reported that three tritium exit signs had been improperly disposed of as trash after a renovation. It is believed that the signs were sent to a landfill.

4. The U.S. Air Force reported on Tuesday a lost Nickel-63 ion scan source. The source had been sent to Smith Detection in October 2011. According to the report:

[The Air Force] was able to determine that according to Smith Detection records, following repair, the device had been returned to Lackland AFB in October 2012. Security Forces has no record of receiving the device and no notification that the device had been shipped. Thorough searches of Security Forces storage and use areas have been conducted without finding the device. One theory is that the device was sent to an old address for Security Forces. The building at that address has been searched without finding the device.

5. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Radiation Protection reported that Solar Testing of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, had lost a nuclear density gauge. The gauge case was put away in a storage area at a work site, but when the case was next accessed, it was empty. The missing Troxler Density Gauge contains cesium and americium sources.

6. And on Friday, the Ohio Bureau of Radiation Protection reported that on June 29, a fire at a Halliburton Energy Services well in Hannibal, Ohio, had damaged resulted in the loss of twenty Halliburton vehicles. There were three sealed source instruments scorched by the fire. The devices have now been removed and are being returned to Halliburton Texas for further testing.

7. Also on Friday, the Louisiana Radiation Protection Division reported that a Troxler Moisture Density Gauge licensed to Terracon Consultants had been run over by a bulldozer on July 1. The gauge housing was damaged, but there were no indications of leakage.

8. Also on Friday, the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control reported to the NRC that a shipment of radionuclides was received by the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center. In addition to the invoiced material, there was an addition I-125 source “was found on the bottom of the case on the foam inserts.” The shipper has been informed of the extra source.

9. And also on Friday, in one that was literally too close to home for me, Ramming Paving Company of Austin reported:

On July 3, 2014, the licensee notified the Agency [Texas Department of Health] that one of its technicians left the licensee’s facility in Austin, Texas, to transport a Troxler Model 4640 moisture/density gauge containing an 8 milliCurie cesium-137 source to the licensee’s facility in Buda, Texas. The technician failed to properly secure the gauge for transport. When the technician arrived in Buda, he found the tailgate on pickup was down and the gauge was missing. The licensee retraced the technician’s route of travel and found a water jug that had also been in the back of the truck near the licensee’s Austin facility, but the gauge was not located. The licensee reported that the device (source rod handle) was not locked. The licensee reported that there were no locks on the transport case lid.

There has been no update filed on this incident. Maybe I should go for a walk and see if I can find it.



About Robert Singleton

By day, I work for a call center. In my spare time, I try to save my hometown (and planet) from a nearly constant onslaught of greedheads, lunatics and land developers. I live in a fictional town called Austin, Texas, where I go to way too many meetings.
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