Jacksonville blast exposes 73 to low level radiation


Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 30, 2006 at 11:43 p.m.
Seventy-three people were decontaminated after being exposed to a small amount of radiation when a gas canister exploded Monday at a defense contractor's manufacturing plant.
No one was in any danger of being exposed to a life-threatening dose of a radioactive type of krypton gas at Unison Industries, Jacksonville Fire-Rescue officials said.
Sixteen people were taken to a hospital for observation after telling firefighters that they felt nauseated, said Bennie Seth, a public information officer with fire rescue.
"Anyone feeling poorly was taken to the hospital as a precaution," she said. No one was seriously ill, she said.
Fire officials said no radiation escaped the building.
The 73 people were found to have levels of radiation exposure high enough that they had to be decontaminated, Seth said. Two fire trucks pulled up side by side next to the building and a tent was set up between them where the people disrobed and were washed down one by one.
Two hazardous materials teams went into the building and found unsafe radiation levels, which came down quickly, Seth said.
Krypton is colorless and nontoxic. It can be made artificially radioactive for use in manufacturing.
Seth said the krypton that the company had was registered with fire-rescue and that it was used for making medical supplies.
Unison also makes alternators for turbine engines and ignition generators for Tomahawk cruise missiles.

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