15 March 2014, 17:37

Radioation leak threat scared Canada as nuclear material canisters fell at local port

Radioation leak threat scared Canada as nuclear material canisters fell at local port

Up to four canisters filled with hazardous nuclear material fell 20 feet in an incident in Halifax, Canada, on Thursday night while the cargo was being unloaded from a ship, prompting an immediate evacuation of the area and closure of the terminal amid fears there could be a radioactive leak. Fire crews and other first-responders trained to deal with hazardous materials were called to the site.

According to witnesses of the alleged radiation incident, a container was being moved from a ship to the dock when up to four cylinders uranium hexafluoride - a material used in the production of fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons - fell about 20feet from inside the container and landed inside the ship.

Radioactivity levels were found to be three to four times higher than normal and the immediate area was evacuated, Halifax Regional Municipality spokesman Brendan Elliott said in a statement.

"There have been no injuries, and all employees on site have tested negative for radiation contamination," he added.

The 29-member crew of the Atlantic Companion owned by Atlantic Container Line, the ship carrying the four canisters, was taken to a local hotel.

A special response team has been dispatched from Toronto on Friday.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's on-site inspector has confirmed that all four canisters carrying hazardous material that fell while being moved off a cargo ship in Halifax are intact as they are designed to withstand significant impact.

"To the best of our knowledge, there is no leak," public information officer Phil McNulty announced.

The uranium canisters came from an enrichment facility in the United Kingdom and bound for South Carolina of the United States.

Voice of Russia, nbcnews.com, news.xinhuanet.com, cbc.ca

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