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. Nuclear Contamination Found In Four States

Americium-241 serves as a portable source for gamma radiography.
Los Alamos (UPI) Aug 9, 2005
Mishandling of a radioactive substance by a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker has reportedly resulted in contamination in four states.

Traces of the substance have been found in homes in Colorado and Kansas that the unidentified employee visited, at his New Mexico home, and at the Pennsylvania laboratory where he apparently shipped a contaminated package, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

The worker and five of his colleagues who might have been contaminated by the substance - radioactive americium-241 - were being monitored by doctors at Los Alamos, which is operated by the University of California. As of Monday none show ill effects, lab officials told the newspaper.

Although the university reported the incident last month in a news release, the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight issued a detailed report Monday.

"The package could have contaminated Federal Express workers and other packages," Beth Daley, a POGO spokeswoman, told The Chronicle. "Surprisingly, it took Los Alamos two full days ... to notify (the Pennsylvania laboratory) it was in possession of an unmarked radioactive package."

It shows "there's a complete lack of accountability when it comes to health and environmental protection at the lab," Daley added.

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