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'No risk to human health' from 'radioactive' metal box

PUBLISHED: 12:10 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:50 23 March 2018

Emergency services were at this warehouse in Whimpwell Green this morning. Pictures: David Bale

Emergency services were at this warehouse in Whimpwell Green this morning. Pictures: David Bale

Archant

Fire chiefs have reassured residents that a hazardous material found in a metal box in Norfolk this morning was of "no risk to human health".

Emergency services at the warehouse in Whimpwell Green. Pictures: David BaleEmergency services at the warehouse in Whimpwell Green. Pictures: David Bale

Emergency services were called to Whimpwell Green, near Happisburgh, in the early hours after a substance was discovered in the area.

A Norfolk Fire and Rescue service spokesman said a member of the public had found a sealed metal box marked with radioactive warning signs inside a warehouse.

Fire crews from Stalham, North Walsham, Carrow, and Sprowston and an environmental protection unit were called to the area, near Cart Gap Road, at around 3am to assess the object using monitors. The police also attended the site and the area to the side of the warehouse was sealed off.

A Norfolk fire and rescue service spokesman said: “We want to reassure people that this was a low level hazardous material in a sealed container, so in this state it was of no risk to human health.

“The container was found in a property by a new owner and had probably been there for some time. It will be given to a specialist contractor who will safely dispose of it.”

The last fire appliance left the scene at 5.34am.

A fire spokesman said earlier that it was an extremely old radioactive source from 1986.

The spokesman said: “It was sealed in a metal box and was inside a wooden crate, which had its top off.

“There were extremely low levels of radiation emitting from it, and beyond a metre [away] there was no detectable source.”

The spokesman added: “It is not a common incident for us, but stocks of this [substance] have been found elsewhere [in the country].”

He said it could have been used as a ballast for boats due to its weight.

The spokesman said he was unable to confirm exactly what the substance was. He said the warning signs included a date from 1986.

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