Radioactive discovery halts Pacific Hwy upgrade

Radioactive discovery halts Pacific Hwy upgrade


Workers sick amid highway radiation scare

Updated April 18, 2012 09:51:06

Road workers vomited after they came across suspected radioactive material while working on an upgrade of the Pacific Highway, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

The materials, which include caesium, were buried north of Port Macquarie after a road accident in 1980.

In that incident, a truck carrying radioactive isotopes from Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor crashed.

The material was being taken to Brisbane on its way to being shipped to the United States.

The upgrade’s project manager, Bob Higgins, says road workers fell ill after unearthing a strange material.

“As we’ve taken down the cutting there we exposed the face of the existing material (and) came across a clay material that when it’s exposed to air it gets an orange streak through it,” he said.

“There were a number of workers that felt a little bit of nausea and there was a bit of vomiting when they were in close proximity.

“(They went) off to the doctor, but obviously we need to be extremely careful here.”

ABCApril 18, 2012, 8:04 am

An upgrade of the Pacific Highway on the mid-north coast of New South Wales has been halted after road workers discovered buried containers of radioactive material.

The materials, which include caesium, were buried north of Port Macquarie after a road accident in 1980.

A truck carrying radioactive isotopes from Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reaction crashed.

The material was being taken to Brisbane on its way to being shipped to the United States.

But instead the damaged containers were buried off the highway.

The Environmental Impact Statement for the highway upgrade had noted some uncertainty about where exactly the containers were buried.

They have now been found, in the path of the roadworks.

Specialists are in the area assessing what to do with the radioactive materials, and if they pose any risk to the upgrade workers or people travelling through the area.

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