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Santa Monica Fire Department Called Out on Radiation Scare

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By Lookout Staff

October 24, 2012 -- Santa Monica's Waste Management Division made an emergency call to the Fire Department after radioactive material was discovered in a dumpster behind the Albertson's at Lincoln and Ocean Park Boulevards Wednesday morning.

After waste management workers discovered levels of radiation coming from a dumpster, they made a phone call to the SMFD, who came out to determine whether the material would be “an exposure issue,” said Judah Mitchell, SMFD's public information officer.

“It was medical radiation,” said Mitchell. “When we finally made entry, we found it was an adult diaper with human waste from someone who was obviously being treated with chemo therapy.”

Mitchell explained that Waste Management tests the trash they pick up to assure no hazardous materials are being disposed of improperly.

When they tested the dumpster behind the Albertsons, “it came back a hot load,” Mitchell said. Radiation was detected about 30 feet away from the dumpster, he said.

Though a strong reading, he said it was not significant enough that it would be harmful to nearby areas.

“They don't know if the waste is from a guy making bombs or a guy with chemo treatment,” he said.

However, once the source of the radiation was discovered, SMFD officials determined that the exposure risk was low and non-life threatening.

“We didn't evacuate the Albertsons nor the buildings around it,” Mitchell said, however, they did deny access to the public to the immediate area, preventing new customers from going into the Albertsons, until the source could be identified and disposed of properly.

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