by RS Bailey
Some very nice looking radioactive tissue box holders bound for Bed, Bath and Beyond stores in the U.S. and Canada slipped through the Port of Newark, New Jersey recently and were sold in 200 of the company’s 1,000 stores, as well as online. They were manufactured in India and shipped by common carrier to 20 states in the US, winding up in 21 stores in California. They have been found to be laced with cobalt-60, a man made isotope that emits gamma rays, the deadliest form of radiation. Cobalt-60 has a half life of 5.27 years.
The boxes have been sold at California Bed, Bath and Beyond stores in Campbell, Canoga Park, Chula Vista, Fontana, Fremont, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Larkspur, Los Angeles at 1854 West Olympic Blvd. and 142 South San Vincente Blvd., Oceanside, Oxnard, Pasadena , San Diego, San Francisco , San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Clara , Studio City , Valencia , West Covina , and Yorba Linda.
The Nuclear Regulatory commission (NRC) said scrap metal containing the Cobalt-60 “could have inadvertently been incorporated into the product during smelting.” I guess that means they could have been purposefully incorporated into the product during smelting as well.
The products arrived in a shipment from India on Dec. 27. But that’s only the last of three shipments. Bed, Bath and Beyond has been selling the product since July. It is unknown whether the previous shipments were radioactive. An “unknown amount” were sold to customers. It’s kind of hard to imagine that these boxes were fabricated in small batches of varying amounts. Usually, that isn’t practical from a manufacturing standpoint. Is anyone investigating? There’s no word on that.
The boxes were discovered earlier this month by the California Highway Patrol at the truck scales in Truckee, on Interstate 80. The shipment the CHP detected contained only four of the radioactive boxes which were found to emit 5.7 mr/hr (milli-roentgens per hour) and 6.1 mr/hr. The contact reading was 6.5 mr/hr, and at one foot was 0.85 mr/hr. The detector used at was a Victoreen 450P ion chamber, manufactured in Austria. The packages were en route to Bed, Bath and Beyond in Santa Clara and San Jose.
The question has to be asked of how Homeland Security, can miss something the CHP can pick up at truck scales. Perhaps their priorities are skewed. While they seem to have been able to scan every airline passenger in the US, with billions of dollars worth of equipment paid to American manufacturers, why can’t they use radiation detectors on the cranes at US ports to scan for radioactive materials? And where were the roving “Viper Patrols” meant to finds threats like this. These tissue boxes have been delivered throughout the U.S., from trucks driving on public roads. The question has to be asked, “How much other radioactive material has slipped into our country undetected? If the CHP can find them, why can’t Homeland Security?
We all know that Al Qaeda is in it for the long haul. If they haven’t already begun committing tiny acts of terror designed to hurt us bit by bit over the long haul, we’ve now taught them it’s a real possibility.
There are various reports on how dangerous these boxes are. The radiation readings above show that the gamma rays dissipate as distance from the source increases. The Nuclear Workers website nukeworkers.com has several comments joking about the levels of radiation, comparing them to the levels in Fiestaware, a brightly colored dinnerware that used a glaze tainted with uranium years ago.
NRC spokesman David McIntyre said there is little to no risk to human health, but it’s better to avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. “If someone has one of these, they could receive a small radiation dose from it. For example, someone keeping one of the boxes on a vanity in the bathroom and spending about 30 minutes a day near it for a year would receive the equivalent of a couple of chest x-rays.”
Dr. Nirav R. Shah, New York State Commissioner of Health, said the level of radioactive exposure from holding the product against the body for one hour would be equivalent to a chest X-ray. A press release from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency says a person who spends 10 hours within one foot of the holder would receive a dose equivalent to a single chest x-ray. That has to make you wonder about the person who has put one on their night table or bed stand, watches TV in bed and then sleeps for eight hours. That equals 365 chest x-rays a year. There’s nothing to worry about? Let’s face it, when it comes to gamma radiation, every little bit hurts.
Bed, Bath and Beyond has issued a recall of the Dual Ridge Metal Boutique Tissue Holders, model DR9M, SKU # 18485524, UPC code 8476820004980. They have pulled them from the shelves of their stores and stopped selling them online. They have posted information on the product, on www.bedbathandbeyond.com. Customers can also call the company at 1-800-462-3966.
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