Grand Canyon, AZ– Preliminary findings of an interagency safety review conducted last week at Grand Canyon National Park indicate no current exposure concerns for park employees and visitors from uranium ore samples previously stored in buckets at the park’s Museum Collection building. The Department of the Interior and National Park Service coordinated the review. The final report will be available in approximately 90 days.
Preliminary findings indicate that the previous reported radiation levels that were taken in June 2018 at the museum collection building were significantly overstated. New radiation measurements and instrument comparisons demonstrated that the actual radiation levels were significantly lower than initially believed and that radiation levels are consistent with background and other areas of the park.
Using historical documentation and information gathered from personal interviews, the team is developing radiation dose estimates from exposure that may have been present when the samples were stored in the Museum Collection building. These dose estimates will be presented in the final report.
Grand Canyon National Park Acting Superintendent Lisa Carrico said, “Employee and visitor safety is our top priority and we greatly appreciate the expertise and leadership of the team that conducted the review.” The team included radiation, industrial and occupational health specialists from various agencies of the government and an independent organization. The specialists reviewed material, conducted interviews, measured radiation levels and clarified relevant facts regarding the issue.
The team surveyed the locations within the Museum Collection building that stored buckets containing uranium ore and determined the areas to be free of residual contamination. Taxidermy specimens from the natural history collection that were stored in close proximity to the buckets containing uranium ore were surveyed and determined to be free of residual contamination as well. The team provided recommendations regarding the handling of museum mineral specimens, including uranium ore and other specimens that contain naturally occurring radioactive elements.
Please visit the Grand Canyon National Park website at https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/historyculture/muscol.htm for additional information.