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Radiation Detected after Jacksonville Industrial Explosion

January 31, 2006
Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop

Jacksonville, Fla.: Fire-Rescue personnel said that an explosion in the 7500 block of Baymeadows Way resulted in the release of radiation inside the building.

Unison's director of communications said a Krypton gas cylinder exploded in the facility around 10:45 a.m., but said no radioactive material was released.

Members of the hazardous material team reported picking up radiation inside the building with their Geiger counters and a level 3 alert was declared.

The fire department began checking employee's radiation levels and about 20 people were put through a decontamination process before radiation levels dropped to between 30 and 60 parts per million.

Fire-Rescue spokesman Tom Frances said 200 parts per million is considered unsafe. Frances went on to say that "We are not faced with a life-or=death situation here."

One person was hurt by the explosion and was transported to St. Luke's Hospital, but information was not available on the extent of injuries. About 15 other employees were taken to area hospitals and were treated for high blood pressure, anxiety and other complaints. None of them suffered any effects of radiation exposure said Frances.

Approximately 500 employees were evacuated from the facility.

Officials said the health risk from Krypton gas was minimal, similar to the risk from exposure to an X-ray.

Unison spokesman Wayne Moles said he was not aware that any product used in their facility had a high radiation risk.

Unison's web site says that the company makes aviation parts, with power condition and control units made at the Jacksonville facility.