Re: Watch out for geological samples
I used to work for a Nuclear Power Plant.
Tale 1. Involves me.
We went to check some leaking valve, in a room with a known leakage of radioactive Xenon, (in gas form, pure). We did as told, as we left, the safety tech inspected us with a geiger counter. We didn't sit, touch or lean anywhere, so we were good.
Except we weren't.
- He said "blow on the geiger counter". It pegged on the 100 counts-per-second. From the soft popcorn-ending background noise, it went straight into beehive noise.
- He changed to 1000 cps backscale. "Blow again". Pegged.
- 10000 cps now. "Blow again". Went into the 7000's.
"Now boys, take off your shirts, and go vent yourselves in that plenum HVAC room, straight into the active carbon filters. Stay there for some 4 hours". So we were 4 dudes, shirts off, shooting the 4 degrees Celsius breeze in a windy room, with an humongous helical fan spinning pretty slowly at 90 decibels on the opposite side.
It was humbling and hilarious at the same time. Will never forget how cold it was for 4 straight hours at 4º C. You can't tell your lungs are flooded with Xenon, at all. Good thing it was Xenon, not reacting to anything else in your body.
Tale number 2. Our own radiological protection officer wanted to get in the NPP, but the portals were alarming on him, before entering, which is weird. (He uses this in his instruction class, of course.)
Standard procedure, he took off all his personal belongings to go through a X-ray-like machine, just as the things you get on an airport. He is clean.
His recently acquired keychain, bought on the beach, wasn't. It was made of a natural radioactive ore mix. It was not releasing dust, in fact it was painted, but the portals went nuts with it.
Other objects he tested positive were gas mantles (that cloth), other types of keychain, and even dark beach sand had strong isotopes on some places, over 400 cps above background.
That beach, for example, could never had a Nuclear Power Plant installed near it, as the alarms would trigger permanently.
So you never know where and how you get radioactive objects, or gasses.