Visitors Exposed to Radioactive Uranium at Grand Canyon Museum; Just sitting in buckets for 18 years

Updated 26 weeks ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Visitors Exposed to  Radioactive Uranium at Grand Canyon Museum; Just sitting in buckets for 18 years
The report warned that there were "beyond natural radiation" levels where the buckets were stored. (Photo11: Courtesy of Elston Stephenson)

The teenage  son of a Grand Canyon National Park museum collections building employee  happened to carry a geiger counter to the collection room . He found three buckets of uranium putting off 13.9 millirems per hour from ore.

 For nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon, tourists, employees, and children on tours passed by three paint buckets stored in the National Park's museum collection building, unaware that they were being exposed to radiation 1,400 times the NRC's safe level for children and over 140 times the safe level for adults. (Video/Photos Courtesy of Elston Stephenson).

According to the Arizona Republic, on Feb. 4, Elston "Swede" Stephenson --- the safety, health and wellness manager ---  turned whistle blower sending a warning email to employees that revealed the worst case scenario consequences.  In a Feb. 11 email to acting  Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, he supplied photos and data only to be stonewalled. 

The uranium had been stored for decades in a basement Stephenson said. They were near a taxidermy exhibit where children sat for 30 minute presentations. By his calculations, within three seconds the children were exposed to radiation in excess of federal safety levels in three seconds.

Visitors Exposed to  Radioactive Uranium at Grand Canyon Museum; Just sitting in buckets for 18 years

Emily Davis, a public affairs specialist at the Grand Canyon, said "there is no current risk... the rocks were removed."

However, Stephenson told USA Today that technicians who came to inspect and remove the buckets arrived with no protective clothing. They purchased dish washing and gardening gloves plus a mop handle to put the uranium into an open truck.

 https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2019/02/18/grand-canyon-tourists-exposed-radiation-safety-manager-says/2876435002/


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