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Radioactive Medical Waste in Dumpster Closes Albertsons

Lincoln Boulevard store closed to new customers for several hours while emergency personnel investigate source of radiation.

A HazMat team investigated Wednesday morning radioactive medical waste detected in a trash bin behind an Albertsons at Lincoln and Ocean Park boulevards in Santa Monica, temporarily closing the grocery store.

The source was a bag of medical grade Iodine 131 used to treat thyroid cancer, according to Santa Monica Fire Chief Judah Mitchell.

The store at 2627 Lincoln Blvd. was not evacuated as Haz Mat personnel wearing protective suits combed the area using "highly sophisticated monitors and detectors." The readings inside the store were normal, so customers were allowed to continue shopping, but new customers were not allowed to go inside, Mitchell said.

A radiation signal about 30 feet from the dumpster—which Mitchell called a "pretty significant read"—was detected by city trash collectors about 9 a.m. Over the past couple of days, they had picked up positive readings while dumping their loads at the waste station behind the City Yards.

City crews set out on their regular routes Wednesday to try to find the source of the radiation. When they picked up the signal near the grocery store, they called 911.

The bag of Iodine 131 and all of the dumpster's trash were taken to the Sun Shine Landfill in Sylmar.

mimi October 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM
IMO the entire Albertson's chain is hazmat. They are notorious for mistreating their employees. I can remember a nasty strike that lasted for many months before the corporate office agreed to give employees a small raise.
Albertsons October 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I work at the store and it was not bad. I was in the store at the time and the fire departments detectors were not going off inside the store. A careless person used our trash can to dispose of their adult diapers. Someone who is going through radiation treatments.
andy k. liberman October 25, 2012 at 01:27 AM
How was the radiation detected? How often is local trash inspected for radiation, and where and by whom?
mimi October 25, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I believe inactive radiation can be detected in urine and is harmless to others. If this were not the case, family members would be warned to avoid urine contact by the patient's treating oncologist.
Isabel Storey October 26, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Wow, so that's what was going on. I tried to go to the UPS store next to Albertson's while all this was happening and found the parking lot completely blocked off. I wondered what was happening - thinking it might be an emergency or just a drill. Thanks, Santa Monica Patch, for informing us about it!

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