Database of radiological incidents and related events--Johnston's Archive

Houston stolen source, 1996

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 24 September 2007

Date: 27 February-5 March 1996

Location: Houston, Texas, USA

Type of event: exposure to stolen source


A radiography company, Larpen of Texas, possessed two cobalt-60 sources (35.3 curies and 8.6 curies) for radiography cameras when it went bankrupt in 1992. The Texas Bureau of Radiation Control ordered the sources impounded in place in October 1992, and requested proper disposal of the sources in 1994. The Bureau had the door to the storage facility welded shut later in 1994, and expressed concern about the source security after the remaining structures were demolished in 1995-1996. On 27 February 1996 three thieves broke into the storage facility and stole the sources to sell them as scrap metal. The buyer took them to a recycling facility where they were declined because they were radioactive. When they were returned to the scrap yard, the delivery man threw the unshielded 35.3 curie source on the ground. The Bureau of Radiation Control recovered the two sources from the scrap yard on 5 March. The delivery man sustained radiation burns on the right thumb and middle finger. Small doses were incurred by scrap yard workers, two children of the scrap yard owner, five investigating police officers, and two Bureau personnel. The three thieves and three people at the scrap yard were arrested.

Consequences: 1 injury.


© 2007 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 24 September 2007.
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