Radioactive goldfish found in Ohio nuclear plant

Two radioactive goldfish were found swimming in a juice pitcher of nuclear reactor water in an underground steam tunnel at an Ohio power plant. Investigators are baffled as to how the radioactive fish remained unnoticed in the ‘secure’ facility.

Investigators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and
officials of the plant, which is operated by FirstEnergy Corp.,
have been looking through surveillance tapes to try to identify who
was responsible for leaving the radioactive goldfish in the tunnel
on May 2. 

They believe one of the 700 employees and contractors who work
at the plant smuggled the fish into the facility, Jennifer Young,
spokeswoman for FirstEnergy Corp., told AP. The fishy tale has
served as an embarrassment for the plant, which has already come
under scrutiny for a case in which four contractors were exposed to
life-threatening hard radiation in 2011. The plant has also been
scutinized for a serious lack of security.

“Last year, Perry got into trouble with the NRC about
weaknesses preventing unauthorized access to the plant,”
David
Lochbaum, a spokesman at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told
The Plain Dealer. “Goldfish are not authorized to be inside the
tunnel, yet they were there. And Perry cannot determine how they
got there or who put them there.”

Officials believe the goldfish were taken through the front door
and likely hidden in a plastic bag in a worker’s pocket. All
workers are required to pass through security, which detects metal
and bombs but not fish and water. Investigators believe the fish
were left unnoticed in the tunnel for several days before
scaffolding crews discovered them and filed a report.

But despite looking through surveillance tapes for more than a
week, little progress has been made in identifying the
perpetrator(s). 

“While we continue to look at the video for evidence,
identifying folks in the video has been challenging,”
Young
told AP.

Both of the 1 ½-inch-long fish died shortly after their
discovery, but officials at the plant claim that neglect and
starvation may have been the cause — not radiation. Chemists found
that the fish were admitting small amounts of radiation, but not
enough to put anyone at risk, including the fish.

“They did not have exposure to enough radioactivity to hurt
them,”
Young told The Plain Dealer. “It was probably
due to lack of care before they got to the plant. The radiation
could not have killed them.”

Lochbaum said the story might sound funny to some, but that
smuggling live animals into the plant shows a serious lack of
security. The story has caused some to recall an episode of the
“Simpsons” in which Blinky, an orange fish, has a third eye due to
his exposure to radiation.

“What might be an amusing account of misplaced goldfish today
could become tomorrow’s nightmare story if someone with an axe to
grind, another Timothy McVeigh type, places a bomb instead of two
goldfish in Perry,”
Lochbaum told The Plain Dealer, referring
to the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

The fish admitted small levels of radiation, but the incident is
most problematic for the plant for once again highlighting the lack
of security — an issue that FirstEnergy Corp. has been scrutinized
for before.

This article originally appeared on : RT