Mafelec company: ASN to issue a report
ASN was notified on the evening of 7th October 2008 by the Isère prefecture of the presence of radiation emitted by lift buttons delivered by the company Mafelec. This company has approximately 200 employees.
ASN inspected the Mafelec site on the afternoon of 8th October with technical support from the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) who took measurements to identify the levels of exposure.
The inspection revealed that:
- the source of the radiation is metal coin-shaped components used as a base for the buttons. This product comes from one of Mafelec's Indian suppliers. Mafelec has indicated that the products manufactured from the part in question are delivered to a single client, the company OTIS.
Mafelec was alerted on 3rd and 7th October by OTIS in the United States to the presence of radioactivity in its products. It was also notified on 17th September by the transport company of the presence of radioactivity in the packages as they passed through Roissy airport.
- the radionuclide responsible for the radiation is Cobalt-60.
This is an artificial radionuclide obtained by neutron irradiation of Cobalt-59. As the parts were not machined during assembly, the contamination did not spread. The IRSN measurements revealed a dose rate of up to 50 microsieverts per hour at one of the workstations. The regulatory threshold for artificial exposure of the public and workers in the non-nuclear sector, except for medicine, is 1,000 microsieverts per year.
- approached the IRSN on Friday 10th October to get an assessment of the dose rate at the worst-affected workstation;
- asked Mafelec to contact the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) to arrange for the contaminated components to be taken away;
- also asked Mafelec to identify the destination of cargo already shipped to its clients as well as the origin of the contaminated batches;
- learnt that on the Indian supplier's client list was a Belgian company.
ASN contacted its Indian and Belgian counterparts to discuss this matter.
Until further information is received, the incident remains classified at level 1 on the INES scale.
- in light of the dose reconstitution results will recommend measures to be taken for the workers affected;
- will submit a report to the Public Prosecutor in relation to several offences, particularly with regard to the Public Health Code.