Detectors find grater contamination in litter

11 September 2008

[Brockton Enterprise, 5 September; Detroit News, 11 September] Radiation detectors at US waste facilities have recently been identifying some unlikely contaminated items. In August, an alarm sounded on a detector scanning trucks entering the Genessee scrap metal recycling facility in Flint, Michigan. Using hand-held scanners, workers were able to identify the offending item as a household cheese grater. More specifically, tests indicated that the radioactivity came from the radioactive isotope cobalt-60 in the triangular-shaped grater's metal handle. It is thought likely that a radioactive source was inadvertently smelted in during the metal producing process in China. The incident comes after detectors at a household waste facility in Rochester, Massachusetts identified heightened radiation in a bag of used cat litter. Officials believe the litter had been used by a cat in West Bridgewater undergoing radiation therapy for cancer. Owners of cats receiving such treatment are given specific guidelines for disposing of used litter. West Bridgewater received a $2000 fine.