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UC Riverside building re-opens after minor radioactive leak

Friday, April 4th, 2014
Issue 14, Volume 18.

RIVERSIDE - A UC Riverside lab where a researcher was exposed to a small amount of radioactive material was back in operation today, with no indication of harm from the exposure, campus officials said.

According to UCR spokeswoman Kris Lovekin, the Genomics Building near the intersection of East Campus and Eucalyptus drives was evacuated as a precaution Thursday afternoon, but activities inside the facility resumed uneventfully this morning.

"Our police are now investigating the incident," Lovekin told City News Service.

Around 4:40 p.m. Thursday, Riverside Fire Department units were called to the campus after phosphorous-21 fell out of its container while being handled by a researcher working in a fourth-floor lab.

Phosphorous-32's properties include radioactive isotopes. It's often used as a "tracer" in nuclear medicine, such as tests to identify tumors in cancer screenings.

The researcher had "very low level" exposure to the substance, according to Lovekin.

"The person is fine," she said, without disclosing the individual's identity.

UCR police evacuated about 100 people from the Genomics Building, while a Riverside Fire Department hazardous materials unit secured the substance and cleaned up the site. Fire Division Chief Mitch Wesche told CNS that no one required treatment for radiation poisoning.

The clean-up operation wrapped up by 10 p.m.

Hazardous liquid spill prompts building evacuation at UC Riverside

RIVERSIDE - A substance containing radioactive isotopes was spilled on the floor of a UC Advertisement
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Riverside lab today, prompting authorities to evacuate the building and summon a hazardous materials team, but no one suffered measurable exposure to the substance, a fire department official said.

The spill was reported at 4:40 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Fawcett Laboratory at East Campus Drive and Eucalyptus Drive, near the Botanic Gardens, according to the Riverside Fire Department.

A student apparently dropped a container of phosphorous-32, which spilled onto the floor, according to reports from the scene.

Phosphorous-32 is often used as a "tracer" in nuclear medicine, such as tests to identify tumors in cancer screenings. UCR police evacuated the entire building as a precaution, though the spill itself was isolated to a small area of the upper floor, according to Riverside Fire Department Division Chief Mitch Wesche.

It was not immediately clear how many students were in the lab at the time of the spill, he said, but all were checked out and none were found to have measurable exposure levels.

Two Riverside Fire Department crews and a hazmat team were dispatched and school staff and Riverside police were also at the scene, Wesche said.

The cleanup was expected to be completed later tonight, he said, adding that no one was taken to a hospital. Because UCR is a state facility, Cal Fire crews were summoned but declined to respond.



Comment Profile Imagejoe
Comment #1 | Saturday, Apr 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm
Ignorance is bliss! It's not phosphorous-21, it's 32-P.

Where did you get the info that "phosphorous-21 fell out of its container while being handled by a researcher working in a fourth-floor lab"?

It did not fall out whilst being handled.

the comments below the article offer some insight.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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