Uncovered today, we find that back in 1998, The Koch Brothers' Tru-Tec Division of Koch Engineering Company, Inc. were caught red handed attempting to irresponsibly mail Cesium-137.
The crime occurred on August 28th, 1998, when a package was mailed from Koch's Tru-Tec in Newark, Delaware. The package contained three sources of Cesium-137 – which is a gamma radiation emitter – containing 1, 18 and 100 millicuries. Destined for pickup by Koch Engineering personnel at a Fed-Ex facility located in Wilmington, North Carolina; the package had made it there, but the contents were missing! Later that same day, the Cesium was found at a Fed-Ex facility in Memphis Tennessee. Michael Flenniken, the Regional Manager/Radiation Safety Officer at Koch Engineering Company, Inc., and another personnel were dispatched and removed the sources from the Memphis facility. How did the contents end up in Memphis when they were destined for Wilmington, North Carolina? The NRC states: "In the case of the August 1997 shipment where three bolts, each containing a sealed source, were missing for a short period, the three sources were shipped in a 10-inch tall shipping container with lead shielding and a circular removable plug at the top of the cylinder. The bolts containing the sources were placed inside the shipping container, and the plug was inserted and secured by placing plastic ties and a combination lock through metal eyes on the body of the shipping container. During the inspection, the NRC learned that after closing the padlock, you, as the RSO at the Newark facility, did not normally check to assure that the hasp was secure. As a result of the failure to perform this check, you failed to ensure that the padlock was secure. The lack of a secure padlock was the likely cause of the release of the sources from the shielded container while at the Federal Express facility in Memphis." So, the NRC is claiming that the padlock, which was a Master Lock No. 175, was not
secured. Do they really believe the lock just fell off, the plastic ties broke then the three Cesium-137 contents fell out of the container? Plus, Koch, inc. was only fined $4,400 for this civil crime that potentially exposed the public to a significant amount of radiation. It shocks me how corporations continually get away with life-threatening crimes, while if you or I committed the same crime, we would be in prison. This leaves me with one question..... Why was Koch, Inc. shipping Cesium-137 in the first place?