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Fri, Apr 01, 2005

Radium Plane Parts Removed From LA Warehouse

Part Of $9.3 Million Cleanup

The EPA says it's removed more than a million airplane parts -- mostly control indicators -- from a warehouse in Los Angeles that were built with radium and, according to the federal agency, posed a radiation hazard.

"We've done a number of radiation contamination (cleanups), but I don't recall a dial cleanup in the past," said Keith A. Takata, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund division, in an interview with the LA Daily News. "A single dial leaking radiation isn't a big problem. But a million of them, and many of them broken, becomes a big problem."

The parts were stored at Preservation Aviation Warehouse in North Hollywood. As ANN reported last June, the gauges came mostly from scrapped WWII aircraft. As the cleanup was getting underway, officials estimated its cost at about $7 million. But the EPA spent $5 million on sending the parts to secure landfills capable of handling radioactive waste. The price tag has now climbed to $9.3 million and EPA officials say they'll do all they can to recover at least some of that cost from the owners of Preservation Aviation.

Radiation levels -- once 100 times background levels inside the warehouse and 10 times normal in the yard -- have now returned to normal, according to Takata. Officials will reportedly decide next week whether the warehouse should be demolished altogether.

FMI: www.epa.gov

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