ONLY ON KHQ: Potential changes in play after radiation mishap at - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

ONLY ON KHQ: Potential changes in play after radiation mishap at waste plant

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AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -Turned away at the dump for radioactive waste with no plan in place.Ray Head was turned away Monday at the Spokane Waste to Energy facility after garbage he was about to dump triggered a radiation detector at the plant. The reading was low he says was not considered hazardous.

However the workers, he says were not clear on where to send him to dump his waste safely. Head says he was directed to the Washington State Patrol office, which directed him to the Department of Ecology. All agencies he says were unsure how to dispose of the waste.

Nearly 24 hours later and after several calls Head says a Washington Department of Heath worker came to his home and determined there was no radiation being emitted from the waste, and it was likely a false reading at the facility.

According to the FDA radiation can be emitted from things like smoke detectors, medical waste and cell phones. Those radiation levels are considered not to be hazardous.

The plant is operated by Wheelabrator Inc. and owned by the city of Spokane. Ken Gimpel, Spokane's Assistant Utilities Director, says "I guess this is one thing we found that there is just not a lot of coordination among agencies."

Gimpel also says the facility typically deals with commercial waste and commercial drivers, but does accept household items like Head has. Gimpel tells KHQ that if any amount of radiation is detected that is still considered to be a "safe" level, people with personal waste are turned away.

When asked if this was a good policy moving forward, Gimpel says "its probably not the best policy moving forward because it is unknown what they have."

Gimpel also says it plans to evaluate the policy moving forward and says "this is probably an opportunity to come up with a more regional plan and get all the agencies on the same page, because obviously we are not."

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