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Official: Radiation incident investigation shows no public health threat

By Mark Shenefelt - | Nov 30, 2021

Hazardous material

ROY — State investigators say no threat to the public exists from radioactive metal that triggered a hazardous materials incident in Roy last week.

A Roy recycler rejected a pile of scrap metal offered for sale on Nov. 23 after a sensor flagged the metal as radioactive, according to Phil Goble, radioactive materials manager for the Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control.

The Roy Fire Department and other agencies responded and conducted a hazardous materials investigation. Crews secured the metal and alerted Goble’s agency, which sent a team to investigate on Monday.

Goble and the team went to a Clearfield business where a storage unit contained a large collection of the metals owned by the people who offered some of it for sale in Roy last week.

Goble said the metal contained thorium, but the concentrations were far below levels considered to be hazardous to humans except in close proximity.

“Honestly, it looks like a big old aircraft engine that has been taken apart,” Goble said of the metal. Thorium alloys have been used in jet engines.

Goble said thorium was detected at a level of 1 millirem per hour outside the storage unit and 5 millirems inside the unit. He said they also determined the thorium was contained within the metal, meaning there is no leakage.

Goble said the average person is exposed to 360 millirems of radiation per year.

The storage unit and the storage area are kept locked, so there is little danger of further exposure there, Goble said. However, the metals will need to be disposed of properly, and Goble said the state personnel gave the owners information about proper disposal.

Goble said the thorium may not have been detected if the recycling center’s radiation monitors had not been “set very, very low, a lot more stringent than you would normally have.”


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