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Radioactive substances left in trash bags on pavement

17:43 16/07/2019

Radioactive substances were detected in three bags of trash picked up by Bruxelles-Propreté last week. The substances were deposited in normal trash bags and left on the pavement.

The bags were detected by an automated system when the rubbish lorries drove into the incineration site at the end of the day. It was the first time the system had ever detected radiation in rubbish bags.

The level of radioactivity in two of the bags was low enough to be considered no danger to workers or the public, and the trash bags were burned. The third bag, picked up later in the week, contained what was considered a dangerous level of radioactivity.

The procedure for dangerous waste was brought into play, which includes isolating the entire lorry of rubbish for a certain period of time and the bag in question for at least a month. “If the level of radioactivity does not drop off, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control is informed and takes charge of the radioactive package,” a spokesperson told La Dernière Heure.

Both waste management workers were sent to the military hospital in Neder-Over-Heembeek to ensure that they had suffered no danger to their health. They checked out OK.

Bruxelles-Propreté said that the substances were medical in nature but is not sure where the bags were picked up or if the third was picked up at the same location as the first two.

Photo: Jonas Hamers/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw