72ºF

Radioactive material cleaned from Sugar Land ditch

SUGAR LAND, Texas – After more than two years of work, Sugar Land city officials believe the radioactive materials that escaped from a building on Gillingham Lane have been cleaned up. However, a state investigation into the incident is not yet complete.

In April 2015, a small amount of Cesium 137 was accidentally spilled inside the Thermo Fisher facility on Gillingham near West Airport. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported a canister of the substance ruptured while it was being handled by an employee.

At the time of the accident, the company handled the repair and storage of gauges used in the petrochemical industry. The Centers For Disease Control reports, in high doses, Cesium 137 can be deadly.

As Channel 2 Investigates reported in February, radioactive materials also escaped the building. A federal lawsuit and state records show some employees carried small, non-harmful levels of the material out of the building to their cars and into their homes.

Company officials also reported Americium 241 from a 'previous incident' was found as it was working to cleanup Cesium 137.

Sugar Land city officials reported non-harmful amounts of radioactive material showed up at 13 spots in the area around Thermo Fisher and in a city owned ditch.

"The ditch has been cleaned and it has been restored to its original condition," said Doug Adolph with the city of Sugar Land.

Adolph said, at Thermo Fisher's expense, all the radioactive material in the area has now been cleaned-up. State officials will be brought in to verify the clean-up.

However, Adolph said the company will still continue monitoring the area to make sure nothing was missed.

"The public will continue to see surveyors in the area until we are absolutely certain that there's no more materials found," said Adolph.

Company officials told KPRC it planned to close this facility before the accident.

The Department of State Health Services still has not issued the findings of its investigation into how radioactive material was able to escape from the facility or whether the company will face any enforcement action.

Download the Click2Houston news app in your app store to stay up-to-date with the latest news while you're on the go.

Sign up for KPRC 2 newsletters to get breaking news, sports, entertainment, contests and more delivered straight to your email inbox.