By Eric Fleischauer
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A small canister of radioactive material from Browns Ferry set off truck-monitor alarms at Tennessee Valley Recycling on Tuesday.
The 4-ounce can contained pipe soldering compound that had been contaminated by radioactive surface contact. Browns Ferry spokesman Jason Huffine said the radiation level was extremely low and posed no health threat.
“It was mistakenly shipped with recycled material that we routinely send to Tennessee Valley Recycling,” Huffine said. “It was with scrap metal that we had sent to the recycling facility.”
After the alarm went off, Tennessee Valley Recycling contacted TVA, which quarantined the can and confirmed that the scrap contained no other radioactive material.
Huffine said TVA voluntarily notified the state Wednesday morning, even though the radiation level was below the amount that requires state notification.
Tennessee Valley Recycling notified TVA of the contamination at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
“This is a rare occurrence,” Huffine said. “We have a working relationship with Tennessee Valley Recycling. Their alarms going off showed a process that worked.”
TVA is investigating how the can left the plant.
“We have systems in place to prevent things from leaving the radiation-controlled area. That’s why we’re investigating what took place,” Huffine said. “We want to find out what took place, and to incorporate any procedures to make sure it doesn’t take place again.”