Co-60 orphan source discovered in a container of metal scraps in the Genova Port
Friday, August 13, 2010
On July 20th, at the port of Genova Voltri, an elevated gamma rate was detected in corrispondence of a container of metal scraps. Radiometric measures revealed the presence of a Co-60 source, with an hot spot of gamma dose rate of 600 mSv/h at contact with one wall of the container, about 40 mSv/h at one meter and 100 microSievert/h at 25 meters from the container wall. Moreover, radiometric survey around the container showed that from the other sides of the container the dose rate level was in the range from 20 to 80 microSievert/h. Smear sample measurements did not show any contamination on the container walls. A rough estimation gave e source activity ranging from 150 to 200 GBq.
A safety exclusion zone was established around the container.
The container arrived on July 13th from the port of Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), shipped by a company based in Ajman (United Arab Emirates). During the trip the shipping vessel stopped at the Gioia Tauro port.
No information is currently available on the container before it was loaded at the Jeddah port.
Potential doses attributable to the workers of the Terminal were evaluated with conservative assumptions. The effective dose received by each person in the harbor area has been estimated to be less than 1 milliSievert. The highest effective doses are those received by the operator responsible for the removal of the container legs during the unloading of the container from the ship (225 microSievert). No people outside the harbor area were involved.
As a precautionary measure and with the aim to reassure the people, about thirty-five workers were identified and subjected to medical examination and some clinical analysis. Other workers asked for medical check. A total of about eighty workers were examined and subjected to clinical analysis.
The Prefecture of Genova is responsible for public information and for the safe management of the event with the support of Fire Brigades Corp, The Regional Agency for Environmental Protection and the National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research. According to national legislative provision, the prefecture is also managing the activities aimed at preparing for the safe return of the container to the shipper, in compliance with international regulations on the transport of radioactive materials.
Investigation activities are in progress under the coordination of the Office of Public Prosecution. A specific project for the source identification and recovery is under preparation.