The owner of the radiation source found
On Friday, November 9, 2018 in Eurajoki, a radiation source was found among the scrap metal, as the radiation detector gates of the scrapyard alarmed. Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), the scrap company and the Satakunta Rescue Department told on Friday after the verification measurements that there was no risk to workers nor the environment, and the scrap container was transferred to a secure shelter for the weekend. On Monday, November 12, 2018, a STUK inspector examined the source and measured the radiation in situ. According to preliminary studies, the radiation source originates from a measuring instrument used by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).
Approximately 5900 radioactive sources are used in industry in Finland. They are used, for example, in various industrial measuring instruments. The origin of the radiation source found in Eurajoki is a measuring instrument of the Finnish Environment Institute that has been used to determine soil properties.
Organisations using radiation sources must have a license issued by STUK and the licensee is responsible for the use and safekeeping of the source. STUK is now looking to clarify with SYKE's report why the disposal of the radiation source has not been made according to regulations.
“Although in this case most likely no one's health has been at risk, STUK will thoroughly investigate the chain of events so that we can learn from this case and develop our own inspection work”, says Santtu Hellstén, Head of Office at Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.
The scrap metal entrepreneur acted correctly by quickly informing STUK about the radiation source, and handled the source with care. Radiation sources can cause great harm, among others, to industrial scrap metal smelters. It could cause a health risk if a container is opened by a nonprofessional and a radiation source is removed from its shield.
"If the source in its container is placed right next to human body, the person would receive a radiation dose about the same size as during an intercontinental flight, about 40 microsieverts," says Santtu Hellstén. At a distance of one metre from the device, the radiation dose corresponds approximately to the dose received from the normal background radiation.
The device also has all the relevant warning signs for radiation sources, so it is highly unlikely that the incident could have caused anyone a radiation dose with any effect on health.
• STUK's officer on duty received a notice on Friday, November 9,. at 14:40 about a radiation source from a scrapyard in Eurajoki
• Radiation detector gates alarmed
• The transport container for the radiation source was found on the load
• STUK asked the Satakunta Rescue Department to perform radiation verification measurements
• The container containing the radiation source was transferred to a shelter for the weekend.
• Rescue workers in the scrapmetal company were told that the level of radiation is so low that it would cause no harm to health
• The STUK inspector investigated the situation on the spot on Monday, November 12, 2018.