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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 15, 2004

Sewer Break At Oakdale Causes Low-level Radioactive Release

Low levels of radioactivity were released late Monday afternoon on the Oakdale campus when a sewer broke, according to Jim Walker, director of the University of Iowa Health Protection Office.

Walker said the milky, white substance was discovered in a low-lying, wooded area south of the Oakdale Power Plant. A sample of the substance, tested for radioactive material, was linked to the Oakdale Waste Storage Facility.

Walker said that solutions containing water and non-hazardous surfactants, buffers, and salts were being discharged to the sanitary sewer line-a routine and permitted activity--when the break occurred. Low-level radioisotopes present in the fluid consist principally of tritium, carbon-14, and 32-phosphorous, and the levels of radioactivity in the discharge were at 0.05 percent of the allowable concentration.

The sewage pipe break occurred downstream from the lift station, allowing the fluid to discharge to the surface. The substance is milky white because that is how surfacants appear after mixing them with water, Walker said.

" The stream of fluid was traced to its end and is being bermed to prevent further travel," Walker said. "The fluid will be recovered and disposed of properly, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is on-site and providing guidance. The Iowa Department of Public Health Radiological Division is also providing assistance."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Walker, cell phone (319) 631-0306