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School evacuated due to radioactive uranium

Posted on Wednesday, 26 October, 2016 | Comment icon 25 comments

The school was oblivious to the danger posed by the rock. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 frwl
Authorities were left shocked when a rock on display in a classroom turned out to be a lump of uranium.
The discovery was made in Austria by antinuclear campaigner Thomas Neff who had been giving talks to school pupils about radioactivity using an old 1960s radium wristwatch.

When he turned on his Geiger counter in one school he realized that it was registering twenty times the typical amount of background radiation that he expected to see.

Perplexed, he attempted to track down the source of the radiation and quickly found that it was coming from a classroom display of rocks, minerals and fossils. One of the rocks, it turned out, was actually a piece of uranium - a deadly radioactive element used in the construction of atomic bombs.

The rock was registering 102,000 counts per minute on the Geiger counter - a far cry from the expected 20 counts per minute of the natural background radiation.

"If you had this rock the whole year in your bag, you would get around 210 millisievert exposure," said Neff. "The exposure to radiation from natural sources is only 2.8 millisievert in a whole year."

Authorities have since discovered several other uranium rocks on display in schools across the city of Salzburg and an official investigation in to the matter is now underway.

Source: Yahoo! News | Comments (25)

Tags: Uranium, Radioactive

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Not Your Huckleberry on 27 October, 2016, 2:29
You can buy uranium ore right off Amazon.
Comment icon #17 Posted by aquatus1 on 27 October, 2016, 13:53
If all those schools had the same rock collection that needed checking, it is more likely that they were just bought en masses by the Board of Education. Sounded more like they just invited a guy to talk about anti-nukes, and he took advantage of the situation.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Oniomancer on 27 October, 2016, 14:52
Humph. You'd be surprised how many schools with better Earth science departments probably have samples of this. Most properly stored of course. Wouldn't surprise me though if some of the ones causing a ruckus date back to when radium and other radioactives were considered a miracle cure-all.
Comment icon #19 Posted by ChaosRose on 27 October, 2016, 15:21
Oh my goodness. Now there's a science experiment for ya.
Comment icon #20 Posted by toast on 27 October, 2016, 15:38
Link to a pdf with the preliminary report created by the Radiologic Measuring Laboratory of Salzburg (RMLS). Its in German so pls use a translator.
Comment icon #21 Posted by freetoroam on 27 October, 2016, 18:09
Hopefully the schools have learnt something from this exercise and in future they will: 1: do their homework properly 2: learn about what theyare teaching 3: do not let strangers into your school with out checking them out first 4: do not play with thingswhich should be in a museum 5: always wash your hands after playing with rocks 6: maybe some of the teachers need to go:
Comment icon #22 Posted by DarkHunter on 27 October, 2016, 21:12
There isn't really a way to improperly store uranium ore. It is radioactive but the radiation it releases is alpha radiation. The significance of that is that alpha radiation only travels a few centimeters through air before being completely stopped and that alpha radiation is unable to make it past the first layer of skin but alpha radiation can mess someone up if they breath it in, inject it, or ingest it. As long as the school isn't letting students ground it to dust or eat it there really isn't an improper way to store uranium ore. It is possible for uranium ore to release gamma radiati... [More]
Comment icon #23 Posted by cyclopes500 on 27 October, 2016, 22:19
It's a lump of rock. Kids have picked it up and they've dropped it. There's fragments on the floor. They'll get ground up stirred up by feet and inhaled. Also the dust and fragments will stick to their shoes clothing skin hair bags the lot. I know. I used to be a cleaner in a college. If it ain't straight and vertical dust will settle on it no matter the angle. Next place that'll be a hotspot will be the corridors gym changing area and assembly hall. The whole building needs to be evacuated, sealed off and encased in concrete. It's in their homes too. In their parents and siblings lungs. Every... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Oniomancer on 27 October, 2016, 22:56
More to say they at least acknowledged it's radioactive and treat it accordingly regardless. Goes to my point though, I'm sure it's pretty common here in the US but you don't see people freaking out about it.
Comment icon #25 Posted by aquatus1 on 28 October, 2016, 1:56
And that's just for Athlete's Foot! Imagine what they will have to do to clean the concrete off the floors in time for class next week!

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