Chemical at fire HQ 'was radioactive'

TESTS have confirmed that a test tube which was taken into Suffolk Fire Service's headquarters by a woman contained a radioactive substance.

TESTS have confirmed that a test tube which was taken into Suffolk Fire Service's headquarters by a woman contained a radioactive substance.

The woman walked into Ipswich's Colchester Road fire station at 5pm on Friday with a sealed test tube which she said contained the dangerous chemical.

The woman found the test tube at her father's home, who is a retired physicist living in a care home.

She contacted bomb disposal experts who advised her to take it to the fire station.


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It sparked a major chemical incident which led to specialist firefighters being deployed as far afield as Haverhill along with ambulance crews.

A health physicist from Sizewell A nuclear power station attended the scene and confirmed that it was radioactive.

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It is now being held in a steel safe at the fire station and will be disposed off this week.

Dave Pedersen, group manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As part of our notification scheme we contacted the nuclear industry for advice on anything being radioactive.

“We were advised that it was not a radiological risk and was a very low yield powder which means that the risk to the public is very low.

“It is a radioactive substance but it is very weak, no more than you would come across in your day-to-day life.

“The woman advised us where she got it from and it is not a criminal matter.”

The Environment Agency (EA) last night said it will ensure the substance will be disposed of properly and said an investigation will be carried out to find out where the substance came from.

Rita Penman, an EA spokeswoman, said: “All radioactive material has to have a paper trail so we know where it comes from.

“We will be looking into that in the coming weeks and will make sure that it is disposed of properly and investigate any breaches of regulations.”

In total, 25 firefighters worked on the incident and the Sidegate Lane entrance to the fire station was sealed off. The decision was taken not to evacuate neighbouring properties. The fire station was fully opened again at 7.30pm.

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