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Radioactive Cargo Is Lost, Then Found in Boston

From Associated Press

A Halliburton Co. shipment of radioactive material that arrived in New York in October was lost en route to Texas and was not found until Wednesday, when it turned up in Boston.

The material -- two sources of the element americium, used in oil well exploration -- was found intact at a freight facility after a search by federal authorities.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it had not been informed of the missing shipment until Tuesday. Depending on the material, government rules require notification either immediately or within 30 days.

NRC and Halliburton officials said Thursday that the public was never in danger.

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The americium was being shipped from Russia to Houston, Halliburton said in a report filed with the NRC.

On Thursday, the company blamed the shipper -- Greeneville, Tenn.-based Forward Air -- for losing track of the material and failing to tell Halliburton.

A spokesman for Forward Air did not return calls.

“The focus through today was on trying to find the material,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “We’re going to be pressing them on why the notification was not more timely.”

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the shipping company improperly labeled the material and sent it to the wrong location. She said Halliburton contacted the shipper “multiple times” about the package and was told repeatedly that it was en route to Houston.

Hall said the shipping company acknowledged Tuesday that it could not find the shipment. Halliburton immediately notified the NRC, she said, and a review of surveillance tapes enabled authorities to locate the shipment in Boston.

Hall said the material was encased in a double-walled stainless steel cylinder that was locked in a steel container.

“All of this was found intact, and we have no information that leads us to believe that the public or environment were in danger,” Hall said.

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