EPA Orders Cleanup of Hazmats from Warehouse

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Strube Inc. to remove all radioactive materials from two adjacent warehouses in Marietta, Pa., where the company stores military aircraft instruments and components including items that contain radium and mercury. The Marietta property is one of seven locations in Lancaster County operated by Strube that contain dials and instruments with radium, mercury, and other hazardous substances. EPA is handling the cleanup at the six other locations and will oversee Strube's cleanup of the Marietta warehouses.

EPA's administrative order, issued March 12, will help accelerate the cleanup of the warehouses and gives Strube an opportunity to demonstrate it has the resources to work with EPA on the cleanup. The order requires Strube to hire qualified contractors, develop an action plan, and follow through with removal of hazardous materials in accordance with deadlines and regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. The order also allows Strube to continue to operate its business of selling aircraft parts as long as all items are screened for radiological contamination before they are removed from any of the warehouses and supplied to customers.

The main concern the sites pose is the potential threat of fire. A fire may release radium-contaminated smoke and ash into the surrounding environment.

Radiation survey and testing performed to date indicate that the general public is not currently exposed to harmful levels of radiation from these warehouses. Because the levels of exposure in the past are not known, workers, visitors, and trespassers to the warehouses may have been exposed to elevated levels of radium-related radiation according to a health consultation from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

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