Outokumpu’s Tornio facility in Finland, one of Europe’s biggest steel plants, has suffered four radiation contamination incidents since July, the country’s nuclear watchdog STUK said on Tuesday. In the latest incident, a batch of scrap metal at the plant was found on Oct. 12 to contain americium, a radioactive element that can be dangerous and potentially deadly if inhaled or swallowed by employees. Workers were forced to wear oxygen masks but were not exposed to radiation, STUK said. “It seems there is a bigger portion of scrap metal around the world that contains americium,” STUK director Tommi Toivonen said. “It is really difficult to find, unlike other radioactive elements.” STUK said in the Oct 12 incident the contaminated materials were shipped from the Netherlands and the Baltics, but were likely to have originated outside Europe. Outokumpu said output was unaffected and products were not contaminated. The origin of the imported scrap metal is not tracked, and the presence of radioactivity could be accidental or a deliberate way to get rid of contaminated materials, STUK said.
Reuters 16th Oct 2018 read more »