Florida Airport Worker Opens 55-Gallon Drum of Uranium

(Image courtesy of Twitter user @OpyMorales)

(Image courtesy of Twitter user @OpyMorales)

There was a hazmat situation Thursday afternoon at the Opa Locka Airport in Miami, Florida. An airport worker opened a 55-gallon drum of uranium.

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue hazmat team was deployed to Opa Locka Airport at 11:34 a.m. this morning.

Arnold Piedrahita Jr., the public information officer at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, confirmed that there was depleted uranium exposed at the airport’s airplane junkyard, where a contractor decommissions aircraft. According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue public information officer Michelle Fayed, a 150-foot quarantine “hot zone” was established. There were no immediate reports injuries at the scene.

At about 12:15 p.m., hazmat crews arrived at the scene to determine uranium potency. The 55-gallon drum was discovered near a decommissioned aircraft. An employee of the contractor lifted the of the drum lid. The drum did not spill. The hazmat crews “methodically and slowly” made entry to the hot zone.

opa locka, uranium, airport

Firefighters opening the container filled with uranium at Opa Locka Airport in Miami (image courtesy of Twitter)

Upon reaching the drum, the hazmat crews confirmed that the drum’s contents are uranium, and requested the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to the scene.

The hazmat crew reduced the hot zone to 5 feet after announcing that the drum contains uranium with minimal radiation levels. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is looking to wrap up the scene following EPA approval for cleanup.

NBC Miami has reported that the uranium 238 came from parts on a dated aircraft. Some planes used to be outfitted with depleted uranium on the outer hull for navigational purposes, according to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokeswoman, Mara Burger.

Opa Locka Airport is 10-miles north of downtown Miami and acts as a general aviation and joint civil-military airfield.

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