United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Morning Report for August 11, 2003



                       Headquarters Daily Report

                         AUGUST 11, 2003

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                    REPORT             NEGATIVE          
                    ATTACHED           INPUT RECEIVED    

HEADQUARTERS                               X               
REGION I                                   X               
REGION II              X                                   
REGION III                                 X               
REGION IV                                  X

               
PRIORITY ATTENTION REQUIRED  MORNING REPORT - REGION II  AUGUST 11, 2003

Licensee/Facility:                     Notification:

                                       MR Number: 2-03-0012
Smith Iron & Metal                     Date: 08/11/03
Richmond,Virginia                                                         

Subject: ABANDONED CS-137 SOURCE AT SMITH IRON & METAL SCRAP YARD        

Discussion:

On July 31, 2003, the Commonwealth of Virginia notified NRC, RII that    
they had been contacted by Smith Iron & Metal (SI&M) in Richmond, VA     
concerning a shipment of scrap metal that had been returned to SI&M from 
Chaparral Steel in Dinwiddie County, VA.  The shipment was returned      
because it alarmed Chaparral's gate radiation monitor.                   
                                                                         
The Virginia Bureau of Radiological Health (VABRH) responded to the SI&M 
site and learned that the shipment was scrap metal that had been reduced 
using shearing equipment at SI&M prior to transporting it to Chaparral.  
Two halves of a heavy radioactive cylindrical device were found in the   
returned scrap.  The device was approximately 18 - 24 inches long, 4 - 6 
inches in diameter, and was filled with lead.  The device had no         
identification markings on it, such as a vendor label or serial number.  
The VABRH conducted surveys of the device and determined that it         
contained a Cs-137 source.                                               
                                                                         
NRC dispatched an inspection team from the RII office on August 4, 2003  
to visit SI&M.  NRC inspectors surveyed the separate halves of the       
cylindrical device and measured radiation exposure rates in excess of 600
mR/hr on one half of the device, and exposure rates in excess of 200     
mR/hr on the other half.  Surveys for removable activity showed          
contamination levels of up to 380 pCi of Cs-137 at the point where the   
device was cut in two.  Surveys of the shear and the scrap metal load    
showed no removable contamination.  Discussions with the plant manager   
and SI&M staff suggested that no staff had personally handled the device 
without gloves, or had been in close proximity of the device for more    
than a few minutes.  It was determined that the device was a gauge       
manufactured by Ohmart, Incorporated, which typically contained between  
100 - 200 mCi of Cs-137.                                                 
                                                                         
SI&M coordinated with another local company to have the two halves of the
device packaged in a shielded shipping container that was secured in a   
locked warehouse on site.  The plant manager stated that a radiation     
monitoring system for the facility had been ordered, and was currently   
frisking outgoing trucks with a Ludlum micro-R meter radiation survey    
instrument.                                                              
                                                                         
Since the source of the device was undetermined, the NRC notified the    
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the EPA has assumed the       
responsibility as the lead Federal agency for follow-up.  Currently, the 
EPA is working with SI&M to properly dispose of or identify the device.  

Regional Action:

None.                                                                    

Contact:  Tom Decker                 (404)562-4721

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012