SUGAR LAND - It`s a quiet neighborhood in Sugar Land and little do many of the residents of the Barrington Place subdivision know that just over a half mile away sits a source of potential radiation contamination.
One resident of the area said. "I`ve seen their signs down there but have no idea what they`re doing and had not heard anything about any radioactivity."
On April 14, an accident at Thermo Fisher Scientific which involved a small leak of the radioactive substance caesium 137 led to as many as 176 employees or family members of workers being tested for contamination.
The Texas Department of Health Services says the risk to the general public is 'very low,' and test results so far are within regulatory limits, but employee concerns about ongoing risks remain.
Bob Royall, Assistant Chief Harris County Fire Marshall, says, "If you`re contaminated, and you take that contamination someplace else, then there is a chance someone could be exposed to it. If you are contaminated and you get in a car, there`s a chance you could leave contamination there just like if you walked through a mud puddle into your car, you would track mud into your car."
An official with the city of Sugar Land doesn`t believe there are any risks to the public saying: "...[T]he exposure was very small, limited to the facility, and the employees exposed do not live in Sugar Land."
Actually, one resident of Barrington Place disputes the city`s claim.
A current employee of Thermo Fisher who wished to remain anonymous worries about co-workers who live throughout 'surrounding' areas and their future health concerns related to possible contamination. "Do we have to worry about this ten years down the road because we`ve had a high proportion of cancers?'
That is just one of the many unknowns stemming from this incident as some employes wait to hear the results from recent tests.
Royall adds, "Radiation, you can`t see it, you can`t smell it, you can`t taste it. you don`t know it`s there."
The anonymous employee chimes in by saying, "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."
Raising many eyebrows about what`s going on just seven blocks away.
Diane Prather, a Barrington Place resident, said, "It is kind of shocking yet at the same time we do live near a lot of plants so I could understand how something......nowadays things are just happening that we don`t think are going to happen."
Since Thermo Fisher is about to close their Sugar Land operation, the questions remains what will happen to the employees and the community they are leaving behind?