EPA Cleans Up New York Hotspot
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Trouble began at Radium Chemical Company's Woodside, Queens facility when inspections revealed continual violations of the law, including lost radium shipments and excessive radiation levels in the plant. In fact, a person could exceed the yearly occupational exposure limit after only one hour in the worst parts of the building. Despite repeated efforts to bring the insolvent company's facility into compliance with State regulations, the situation failed to improve, and EPA stepped in.
Due to the facility's potential to cause significant harm to the public, EPA led efforts to remove dangerous radioactive material from the site. EPA's team, clad in highly protective gear, used a remote-control apparatus to help pack 10,000 radium needles in specially designed 1,600-pound, steel- and lead-lined drums. The team also packed 150 drums and steel boxes with contaminated debris and shipped them to a low-level radioactive waste disposal site. EPA also recommended that the State conduct health surveys of former Radium Chemical Company employees.