Anniston Depot fire bursts radioactive gas containers
ANNISTON (AP) — A fire at the Anniston Army Depot burst several containers that held radioactive gas, threatening a warehouse of contaminated material, an incident first made public by the Wisconsin nonprofit group Nukewatch.
Anniston Army Depot spokeswoman Joan Gustafson said the fire was extinguished within 30 minutes Monday.
was reported to the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday. She said she had not planned a news release because the fire was so small.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said that "a fair amount" of radioactive waste was involved.
"But the contamination was limited to the area where the fire occurred," Sheehan told The Birmingham News in a story Thursday.
Nukewatch co-director John LaForge said the fire should have been reported to the public.
"That's an awful lot of radiation," he said. "It's a trivialization to not have reported this themselves to the press."
The Army said the fire was ignited by a chemical reaction from hydrogen peroxide on oily paper towels that had been used to clean equipment of radioactive tritium. The towels had to be disposed as radioactive waste and were stored with other radioactive waste awaiting disposal.
Sheehan said an investigator will visit Anniston within a few days.
Gustafson said the Army now uses a detergent instead of hydrogen peroxide for cleaning tritium-contaminated items.
Information from: The Birmingham News
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