When the paper about 60Co contaminated lift buttons was drafted and published (see European ALARA Newsletter No. 25, October 2009) some Italian colleagues informed us that Italy, too, had been involved in the problem, but at that moment no information was available for dissemination, because the enquiry was still open and the public prosecutor decided both to keep media unaware of the event and to not authorise involved experts to release information on it. Now the enquiry is closed, the technical information has been unclassified and this short note was received to be published as an update to the Newsletter.
Author: Lt. V. Scarfoliero (Pollution from Radioactive Sources Unit, Carabinieri Environmental Care Command, Italy)
In October 2008, OTIS, a Milan-based metallurgical engineering company, informed the Italian Authority about some batches of steel lift buttons manufactured in France probably contaminated with 60Co.
After investigation and inspections, the Pollution from Radioactive Sources Unit of the Carabinieri Environmental Care Command, with the technical support of ARPAs (Environmental Protection Regional Agencies) and OTIS technicians detected 254 buttons contaminated with 60Co out of about 9,000 buttons monitored.
Specifically, 212 buttons were found in a subsidiary of OTIS near Bologna; another 42 buttons, which had already been installed, were retrieved from a shipping company near Bergamo.
The buttons in the notified batches containing 60Co-contaminated steel from India had been produced for OTIS by the French society MAFELEC, and had reached the subsidiary company near Bologna for assembly.
At the end of the investigation, with the approval of the Bolognas Public Prosecutor and the Local Prefecture, the OTIS subsidiary near Bologna obtained the necessary permits for exporting the contaminated buttons.
On 14 September 2009 all contaminated buttons were shipped by plane through an authorised carrier to France and delivered to the OTIS headquarters.