Hazmat confirms exposed uranium found at Opa-locka Executive Airport

By Barbara A. Besteni, Managing Editor, Local10.com, barb@local10.com
Ben Candea, Senior Web Producer, bcandea@local10.com
Published On: Jul 25 2013 12:16:52 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 26 2013 09:03:48 AM EDT
OPA-LOCKA, Fla. -

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on Thursday sent its hazmat team to investigate depleted uranium exposed at Opa-locka Executive Airport Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters forced people to evacuate a 150-foot area around the uranium, Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita Jr. tweeted.

The depleted uranium -- which is uranium in its most common form -- was discovered by a worker in solid form, in a 55-gallon drum, at the east end of the airport where mechanics dismantle aircraft.

At around 1 p.m., the hazmat team confirmed uranium was inside drum and was monitoring levels of radiation and requested help from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Uranium is supposed to be disposed of in a certain way because it always has levels of radioactivity/toxicity, even though those levels are often low. In this case, it appears it was not disposed of correctly.

A short time later, Piedrahita tweeted that the uranium was "posing minimal to no hazard. Hotzone perimeter reduced to 5 feet."

Minimum radiation levels were found and crews were awaiting the EPA to release the scene for cleanup.

According to the EPA website, depleted uranium is used in helicopters and airplanes as counter weights on certain wing parts.

A private company will come out to dispose of the uranium.

Watch Local 10 News and refresh Local10.com for updates on this story.

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