Via The Chronicle Herald: Radioactive spill at north-end container terminal.
A container of nuclear material was leaking aboard a ship in Halifax’s north end Ceres terminal Thursday evening.
A hazmat team was called in at about 9:45 p.m. when a possible spill was reported at the Bayne Street terminal.
About 90 minutes after emergency officials were called, a radiation leak was confirmed.
“We have a leak, I’ve got to go,” Halifax Fire and Emergency Service Division Commander Corey Beals said during an telephone interview.
“A container fell and it could possibly have some type of nuclear material in it,” Beals had said earlier.
“We have a hazmat team on scene right now and we have meters and equipment to go and meter the area to determine whether we do in fact have a leak or to rule it out,” Beals said.
It is believed the container was being loaded onto the deck of the Swedish-built Atlantic Companion when it dropped. The ship is owned by the Atlantic Container Line (ACL).
“It’s kind of hectic right now, maybe later,” said a man who answered the Ceres terminal operations line. There were unconfirmed reports that the container contained uranium hexafluoride.
“It’s a radiological-type of material,” Beals said.
Beals did not know how much of the material is in the container.
Uranium hexafluoride is used to provide fuel for nuclear power and in nuclear weapons. According to a website operated by URENCO, a nuclear fuel supplier, thousands of tonnes of uranium hexafluoride are shipped around the world annually.
Two teams of firefighters were being sent onto the ship to test for radioactivity levels. The first team found nothing unusual, Beals said.
However, the second team picked up higher than normal levels of radioactivity.
There were unconfirmed reports the levels detected were three times normal.
There were unconfirmed reports that the Halifax Harbour Master has been alerted that there was a ship in the harbour leaking radioactive material.
Before the leak was confirmed, Halifax fire had cleared workers from the area of the ship and established three zones — a cold zone or safe zone, a warm zone where the command post had been established and a hot zone closer to the container where only the hazmat team was allowed to go.
The wife of a worker at the Ceres terminal tweeted late Thursday night that her husband was on scene when the container fell and that he has been quarantined.