Report: Radioactive material transported to recycling facility

Updated: Dec. 15, 2017 at 4:03 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, a manufacturing facility in Wilmington, will take corrective measures after a private contractor nearly dropped off radioactive materials at a New Hanover County recycling facility.

In September 2016, a private contractor picked up scrap metal piping from Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas in Wilmington to transport to a local recycling facility. That shipment never made it.

During a standard screening for radiation at the recycling facility, an alarm sounded indicating the shipment was contaminated with a detectable amount of radioactive material. The shipment was then returned to the GNF-A facility.

That news came to light more than a year later as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission filed a confirmatory order this week against GNF-A after the two sides reached an agreement on resolving the issue. The order will not contain a notice of violation or civil penalties. However, Global Nuclear Fuel will take several actions to ensure something like this won't happen again.

The NRC's order cites five apparent violations, including, among others, failure to survey the scrap metal piping and failure to comply with regulations to transport the materials. GNF-A contends the level of contamination did not exceed the reportable limit.

GNF-A has several measures to take over the next several months after this order, including installing a vehicle portal monitor that is able to detect surface radiation levels.

A spokesperson for the NRC said they do not believe that anyone would have been exposed to harmful levels of radiation in this incident, even though the shipment exceeded regulatory limits.

GNF-A issued the following statement Friday afternoon.

GNF-A remains committed to safe and compliant operations and after having implemented both near-term and broader corrective actions continues to take this event as a learning opportunity to improve across the organization.

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