Discovery of legacy radioactive sources and residual contamination

Print View Posted on: 07 September 2021

Event Date: 09 October 2020 Event Type: Radiation Source
Event Location: France, University Hospitals of Strasbourg INES Rating: 2 (Final)

The discovery by the University Hospitals of Strasbourg (HUS) of legacy radioactive sources and residual radioactive contamination in a building on the site of the Civil Hospital of Strasbourg was reported on the ASN website on 12 October 2020. Since that date, substantial investigations and characterisation work have been carried out by the HUS teams.
This radioactive contamination and the sources discovered originate from the use first of radium-226 and then cesium-137 in the treatment of breast cancer by brachytherapy in the University Hospitals of Strasbourg (HUS) services and the Paul Strauss Centre (CPS) from the 1930's to the 1970's.
Nuclear activitues in that building have been stopped in the 90's.
The situation was found when a radiological check was performed for a project to re-use the building.
Over and beyond rendering the building safe, the work carried out served in particular to map and characterise the identified points of contamination, to isolate and package the legacy sources, to cross-reference these elements with the available archives, and lastly to initiate the dosimetric evaluation of the people having worked in the premises concerned. ASN sent staff to the site to check that the premises and the sources had been made safe, and is keeping regular track of the ongoing work with the teams of the HUS and the CPS.

INES Rating: 2 - Incident (Final) as per 31 August 2021
Release beyond authorized limits? No
Overexposure of a member of the public? No
Overexposure of a worker? No

Contamination spread within the facility? No
Damage to radiological barriers (incl. fuel damage) within the facility? No

Degradation of Defence In-Depth Yes

Person injured physically or casualty? No
Is there a continuing problem? No

Julien Husse
Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN)
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