N. Idaho uranium cylinder posed no danger, EPA says

LEWISTON, Idaho — A depleted uranium cylinder found at a northern Idaho metal workshop posed no danger to the public, but it’s unclear how the cylinder came into the company’s possession, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Greg Weigel of the EPA told the Lewiston in a story Saturday that a property owner cleaning a building in April found the cylinder in a box of salvaged metal at the Thomason Chemical Co. in Craigmont.

“We looked at it and determined it was depleted uranium,” Weigel said. “It was not highly radioactive, but we determined it needed to be properly taken care of.”

He said the cylinder was a small piece of metal, and that a team from the U.S. Department of Energy identified the object. Weigel said the company has no record of how it received the cylinder.

They “don’t know how they got it,” he said. “They did some metal salvaging some time ago, and this piece came in as salvaged metal. The former owner thought he’d gotten it from Hanford.”

Hanford is a contaminated nuclear site in central Washington state.

Weigel said there is no record of how it got to northern Idaho, and finding such a cylinder is rare.

“We call this an orphaned source because there’s no record of its background, and we don’t really know where it came from, other than it was a piece of uranium depleted metal,” he said.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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