Safety cap left off toxic cargo as it travelled 130 miles across Britain
Found this article on Fark.com. Talk about disturbing news...
Blunder left trail of lethal radiation
By Andrew Norfolk
A LETHAL beam of radiation was emitted from a casket containing highly radioactive waste on a three-and-a-half-hour road journey across England, it was disclosed yesterday.
Thousands of people were put at risk by the 'cavalier' attitude of workers for the privatised company in charge of transporting the hospital waste.
Anyone standing one yard from the beam and in its direct path would have felt sick within ten minutes. After two hours they would have been dead.
Only by 'pure chance' was no one directly exposed to the high concentration of cobalt-60 gamma rays that streamed from the container because of the failure to install a lead safety plug.
Radiation levels up to 1,000 times higher than a high dose rate were found a day after the trailer and its 2.6-tonne package reached their destination.
Details of the trail of radiation emitted on the 130-mile journey from Cookridge hospital, Leeds, to the Windscale waste processing at Sellafield, Cumbria, emerged at Leeds Crown Court. Fortunately, the narrowly focused beam was directed downwards. Had the rays escaped horizontally, they would have contaminated anyone within 330 yards of the vehicle.
Dr Michael Clark, of the Health Protection Agency's radiation protection division, said that those in the vicinity of the trailer, and particularly its driver, were 'very fortunate' to have escaped unharmed.
'The doses - and the dangers - drop off with distance, but this was a very large source, potentially lethal,' said Dr Clark. The court was told that it was impossible to assess the extent of exposure as the beam may have bounced off the ground during loading and contaminated employees.
The company at the centre of the scandal, which was formerly part of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, admitted six breaches of the regulations governing the transport of radioactive material.
AEA Technology (AEAT) was guilty of a series of failings that led to the incident, exposing its employees and other people 'to unnecessary and potentially extremely high radiological risks'.
Two long-serving employees later resigned. The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, specifically criticised their behaviour.
The judge said: 'The two people who were primarily involved have been allowed to become, with lack of proper oversight, relaxed and somewhat cavalier in their approach to what they should be doing.
'We have to remember that we are dealing with the movement over long distances of very, very dangerous material.' more here