r Letter From Eastie: Are you kidding me?
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Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Are you kidding me?

How does a container of nuclear material go missing for 4 months? As if the LNG is not enough:

Boston.com / News / Local / Shipment of radioactive equipment brings rebuke for nuclear agency
There is no indication the public was ever in danger, but Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat and member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the incident underscores a weakness in NRC rules for tracking radioactive material.

''The NRC still hasn't beefed up its rules to the point where we can be sure these materials can be kept out of terrorists' hands," Markey said in a statement. ''Instead, we have a nuclear 'lost and found' system where materials may go missing for months."

An NRC spokeswoman said about 300 radioactive industrial items go missing each year and only about half are recovered. [Wha haa????!!!!!]

NRC records indicate that the 185-pound container was registered as having arrived in Newark on Oct. 9. On Tuesday, Halliburton told the NRC it was missing. The FBI helped locate the container the next day at a Chelsea facility of Tennessee-based freight company Forward Air.

''After Halliburton notified the NRC that it believed the package was missing, federal and state authorities were notified, and the FBI helped locate the source," NRC regional spokeswoman Diane Screnci said. ''NRC rules require immediate notification once a source is determined to be missing, and we're in contact with Halliburton to determine why the notification was made when it was."

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company was conducting an investigation into the matter, but blamed the shipping company, identified by a federal official as Diversified Freight Logistics Inc. based in Texas. Halliburton contacted the shipper several times during those four months, and each time was told the container -- labeled as containing radioactive material -- was in transit to Houston, she said.

Tuesday ''is when the shipping company confirmed to the company the mistake," Hall said. ''We reported it immediately."

A subsequent review of surveillance tapes showed the container had been mislabeled by the shipping company Dec. 30 and sent to Chelsea, she said. A woman who answered the phone at Diversified Freight Logistics yesterday said no one was available to comment.

Matt Jewell, general counsel for Forward Air, said yesterday that the company had possession of the shipment since Dec. 30 but did not know it was missing until Wednesday. ''At all times that Forward Air has had possession of this cargo, it has been stored in a safe and secure location," he said.

Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston, said the FBI is not investigating the matter further.

--Boston Globe

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