Imagine showing up for work, and being greeted with this news:
"Some of the nuclear material was leaked."
That's what happened on April 14 at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Sugar Land. Thermo Fisher makes nuclear instruments that measure density levels in vessels and pipes. While dismantling a gauge in a disposal area of the plant, a small amount of the material Caesium 137 (or Caesium Chloride) leaked.
One employee told NewsFix, "They started calling us in one by one for evaluation, to be checked for radiation."
According to the Texas Department of Health Services, at least 176 workers and family members have been tested for contamination.
"We were informed on April 17th that the facility was to be shut down temporarily while they assess the situation," said the Thermo Fisher employee. "Why didn't we know there was a spill immediately?"
It is unclear when Thermo Fisher first learned of the leak. According to the Texas Department of Health Services, at least 176 workers and family members have been tested for contamination. It is also unclear if or how many have actually been contaminated.
Thermo Fisher has sped up plans to close the Sugar Land operation, transferring some employees to other sites in the U.S. and overseas. Thermo Fisher said in a statement:
"No employee was exposed to radiation in excess of regulatory limits as a result of the incident." The Department of Health Services also says the recorded levels of exposure are 'trace' or 'acceptable.'"
In the meantime, according to one employee, some Thermo Fisher workers' homes are being tested, while some cars are being checked outside the company facility on Gillingham Lane.
"My biggest concern is that the health of the people involved in the factory there is safeguarded as much as possible and the community is safeguarded as much as possible."
The Texas Department of Health Services says the levels of exposure found so far are not contagious or dangerous to the general public in any way.
However, radioactive material can be passed from one to another, if touched or brushed against someone's clothes.