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FedEx Misplaces Radioactive Rods

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the sign-here-for-your-tumors-sir dept.

Security 165

Hugh Pickens writes "A shipment of radioactive rods used in medical equipment has vanished while being sent by FedEx from North Dakota to Tennessee. Based on tracking information, FedEx is focusing its search in the Tennessee area, but as a normal precaution the company alerted all of its stations 'in the event that it got waylaid and went to another station by accident.' Dr. Marc Siegel says if someone opens the container it could pose some serious health risks. 'I don't believe it has the degree of radiation that, if it were opened, your skin would suddenly slough off. But the concern would be, if this got opened inadvertently and someone didn't know what it was and then was repeatedly exposed to it over several days, it could cause a problem with radiation poisoning,' says Siegel. 'The people that use this equipment in a hospital use protective shielding with it.' The lesson is that active medical material must always be transported in a way that ensures the general public cannot get access to it. 'Medical devices should not be FedExed. They should be sent under a special service,' adds Siegel."

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165 comments

In Rod We Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352344)

nt

Re:In Rod We Trust (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352486)

Why couldn't they just ship inanamate carbon rods? [wikipedia.org]

Oooopps (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352630)

I know where the are - the TSA just found them in Taco's anus!

Re:Oooopps (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352668)

You're thinking of intimate carbon rods, but they don't belong in tacos.

Re:Oooopps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34353794)

You may be joking, but based on what I've read here on slashdot, it might be the truth. What is your source?

What a Dick! (2, Funny)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352556)

" 'Medical devices should not be FedExed. They should be sent under a special service,' adds Siegel."

    What a chickensh*t dick! He wants us to pay a HUGE price supplement for any shipment of anything marked 'medical equipment'. After all, he's not paying for it.

    So instead of a shipment of a case of wooden tongue depressers being sent for $25 it will cost $350 because it is marked 'medical equipment'. You know this will happen.

    If something is delicate or harmful_if_opened then just F*CKING mark it so when shipped. It doesn't matter if it's nuclear fuel rods or one-drop-kills-the-whole-block snake venom or whatever. Give it a 'special' tracking number. Mark the package in bright orange stickers written in English and Spanish "Don't open this package, nitwit! because you could die and take out the people around you also." Make sure that you don't lose it. You are a global shipping company: you're supposed to know what you're doing.

    Warn people about the consequences about being stupid, and, having warned them, refuse to accept any responsibility for the bad things that happen when people ignore your warning.

    By the way, if something is labeled -Dangerous!- -Hazard!- -Caution!- don't tell me that you're not to blame for messing with it because the label was in English and you only speak Spanish or whatever. Learn a few English words like 'caution' 'danger' 'warning'. It will serve you better than learning words like 'pussy' or 'Burger King'.

Re:What a Dick! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352620)

Fedex is the only carrier I would trust to ship dangerous goods, simply because they don't play football with packages and their drivers are really careful. UPS would gladly break open a package marked "Dangerous Goods" if it meant they could save a few cents.

FedEx and UPS both occasionally lose packages. When they do it it's smarter to let them know and make a claim.

Caution! Dangerous Chemicals!

Cuidado! Caramelo que es delicioso!

Re:What a Dick! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352648)

If something is delicate or harmful_if_opened then just F*CKING mark it so when shipped. It doesn't matter if it's nuclear fuel rods or one-drop-kills-the-whole-block snake venom or whatever. Give it a 'special' tracking number. Mark the package in bright orange stickers written in English and Spanish "Don't open this package, nitwit! because you could die and take out the people around you also." Make sure that you don't lose it. You are a global shipping company: you're supposed to know what you're doing.

I'm not sure if you're aware, but having done some work at the local FedEx facility, the people on the shipping floor make around $8/hour with no benefits. Believe that anything small enough that seems like it might be valuable is making its way into somebody's pants for an attempt at being snuck out of the building.

Re:What a Dick! (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353424)

I'm not sure if you're aware, but having done some work at the local FedEx facility, the people on the shipping floor make around $8/hour with no benefits.

More pay and strict discipline are in order.

Spare the rod, spoil the child

Re:What a Dick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34353748)

They do fire the bottom rung workers who get caught stealing, but it's still a common occurance despite poor man's TSA like security leaving the building.

Re:What a Dick! (2, Interesting)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353828)

Anyone who stuffs radioactive rods in their pants is gonna get what they deserve without any need for the judicial system.

Re:What a Dick! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352750)

Man are you naive. Boxes marked like that would be the very first to be 'lost'. It's like having a big sign that says "STEAL ME!".

Re:What a Dick! (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352834)

Sorry dude, I have to disagree.

Radioactive material is allowed to be shipped by plane and special precautions are usually required. FedEx is right to bitch here. They have violated quite a few regs by inadvertently moving a radioactive package by air.

Re:What a Dick! (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352846)

Agree but for one thing. He's so stupid he doesn't realize he IS paying for it......or would be next time he gets medical care of any kind, or pays an insurance bill.

Re:What a Dick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34353212)

Absolutely ridiculous, you're right. We ship medical devices, or spare parts for them all the time by couriers. The problem is that a lot of people, like Siegel, work in a field and forget that although they work with medical devices, the entire class of such things is significantly larger than their little corner.

Most medical devices are not dangerous if you only open the box, and most are not as sensitive to shipping constraints as radio-isotopes.

Imagine that a customer's life-saving medical device is down because of a broken part - you've got to get it there, or even ship an entire new device. If it's in a slightly more remote area, you won't get a special service to deliver it, you rely on courier services because they can get it there quickly, and 99% of the time it gets there, gets there on time and doesn't arrive broken.

Re:What a Dick! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353702)

Most medical devices are not dangerous if you only open the box, and most are not as sensitive to shipping constraints as radio-isotopes.

      I don't know, my thermal transfer paper for my EKG gives people heart attacks and rhythm problems all the time... and all I have to do is push a button. Dangerous stuff, man, keep away from it.

Re:What a Dick! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353344)

Given that the radioactive source was packaged in a sealed pig, a totally boring, mainstream service is probably actually the safest way to ship it.

Unless you want every single medical/industrial radioactive source(it isn't talked about much; but this is a lot of hardware, those things have all kinds of uses) to travel under military guard, the low-profile option of just slapping the source inside a suitable container and fedexing it as though it were just another boring package is probably a great deal more theft/diversion resistant than is splashing "zOMG RADIATION!!!!!" on it in day-glo orange and sending it by some special courier service.

Active Medical Material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352352)

"The lesson is that active medical material must always be transported in a way that ensures the general public cannot get access to it."
How about adding 'active radioactive material' to that list?

Re:Active Medical Material? (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352528)

Why do you have a problem with me using Fedex to ship somebody across the country some radioactive fiesta-ware they bought from me on eBay?

"Radioactive" doesn't automatically signify "dangerous".

Re:Active Medical Material? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353148)

Why do you have a problem with me using Fedex to ship somebody across the country some radioactive fiesta-ware they bought from me on eBay?

"Radioactive" doesn't automatically signify "dangerous".

In trained and informed hands, not dangerous at all. However I would consider Fiestaware dangerous to someone ignorant of its radioactive properties.

Should such devices be properly labeled? Probably. Should they be banned from postal services if properly packaged? Probably not.

FedEx? (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352358)

I cannot believe someone thought it was a good idea to FedEx radioactive material. Someone needs to be fired.

Re:FedEx? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352400)

Must have been a ex-fed.

Re:FedEx? (2, Funny)

echucker (570962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352414)

Want to bet that the hospital was following the manufacturer's instructions for an RMA?

count on it (4, Informative)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352686)

I had a nuclear scan scheduled for a week after the 9/11 attack. I suddenly started getting one or two calls a day from the medical center... it's off, it might be a week out, it might be two weeks out, we don't know... hey, come in your scheduled time, we just got a trickle of material, and we can do 8 or 9 tests.

the issue is, of course, the planes weren't flying. the special courier services weren't allowed to operate. the FedEx and UPS planes weren't allowed to operate. it's too far to drive the material. they finally found two containers of material at a distributor ten miles away that was to go out of activity tolerance in a day and a half.

a shipping container for, let's say for the sake of not spilling the beans, under a dozen doses, has three layers of radioactive protection. there are two layers of spillproof/shatterproof for both the short-lived nucleotide and the source that creates it from another short-lived nucleotide.

so, just as drunken truck drivers can move classified "special weaponry" across the country routinely, as we read earlier this week, certain amounts of radiostuff packed to standard X can be shipped per courier flight. not enough to wipe out a city, a little more than you are allowed without a higher-tier inspection system.

but do be advised it's not good stuff to keep around as a curiousity.

not drunk drivers (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353284)

so, just as drunken truck drivers can move classified "special weaponry" across the country routinely, as we read earlier this week,

The agents in question were never driving drunk, with or without the nuclear materials. There were two incidents (in the agency's entire history, reportedly) where *some* agents got completely hammered and the cops were called on them. They were not drunk while transporting the materials.

Re:FedEx? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352420)

Right. Of course!

Brown would have been a much better choice.

Re:FedEx? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353642)

I'm not sure if you're joking or not, but I've had far fewer problems with UPS than either Fed Ex or USPS.

Re:FedEx? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352428)

I cannot believe someone thought it was a good idea to FedEx radioactive material. Someone needs to be fired.

I wasn't aware that you even could send radioactive material by a standard courier service or mail. I thought they generally frowned upon radioactivity, dangerous chemicals etc etc.

Re:FedEx? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353278)

Nope they just charge extra.

Re:FedEx? (0, Offtopic)

Christian Marks (1932350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352480)

If you believe in limited government, then it follows that it's a matter of corporate policy whether to ship radioactive materials, which would be completely unregulated. The free market would decide where those rods would end up, and disclosing anything about them would be strictly determined be the effect on the bottom line.

Re:FedEx? (0, Offtopic)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352550)

If you believe in limited government, then it follows that it's a matter of corporate policy whether to ship radioactive materials, which would be completely unregulated. The free market would decide where those rods would end up, and disclosing anything about them would be strictly determined be the effect on the bottom line.

Yes, because other than government regulation there is no possible incentive for FedEx (and others) to not lose packages. It is only the "Packages Must Be Delivered To Their Proper Recipient Act of 1942" that regulates them into doing so. It's also not as though FedEx might want to avoid the bad publicity of misplacing radioactive rods.

Indeed, any form of limited government could never work, the only realistic option is unlimited government. /sarcasm

Re:FedEx? (0, Troll)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353176)

... It's also not as though FedEx might want to avoid the bad publicity of misplacing radioactive rods.

Not enough to ensure it doesn't happen, since it just did. But please, don't let any actual facts contaminate your theory about the effectiveness of market-based solutions.

Re:FedEx? (1, Informative)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353256)

You're right, a government organisation (or a government regulated organisation) never lost anything, ever.

Re:FedEx? (3, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353338)

This thread is retarded. There's nothing in this story has to do with big government vs small government, or public vs private.

Something got screwed up in this instance. In a complex system with high volume and lots of humans involved, that's going to happen. 100% perfection is impossible. It's impossible for government, and it's impossible for corporations.

What we CAN fix is buffoons who take a totally unrelated story and try to twist it to fit whatever ideology they want to push.

Re:FedEx? (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353506)

I agree with you, 100%.

I apologise if this didn't come across in my posts, but my ire was directed entirely at the guy who started banging on about 'market forces' etc based on a parcel company temporarily misplacing a parcel within their own building.

As you say, shit happens, and the amount of shit that can happen is proportional to the size or the complexity of the system in which happenings can occur. If people can make mistakes, then it follows that collections of people will also make mistakes, whether a corporation, government department, co-op, syndicate or knitting circle. There's no political or ideological argument there.

Thank you for your sterling contribution and hopeful termination of this stream of mindpiss that unfortunately I allowed myself to be drawn into.

Re:FedEx? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353662)

Um, past experiences with unregulated businesses pretty strongly implies that that would be the case. Corporations have a tendency to find the acceptable loss to the end user that maximizes their profits, never mind that people assume, and rightly so that the business is going to be taking things more seriously than that.

While it's unreasonable to assume that 100% of packages will get where they need to go, that's not the same thing as letting a carrier off the hook for making decisions primarily upon cost efficiency.

Re:FedEx? (4, Informative)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352536)

FedEx (and other carriers) handle materials like this all the time. Also, if you had bothered to do a little more research you would have found this article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-26/fedex-seeks-missing-shipment-of-radioactive-rods-used-in-ct-scan.html [bloomberg.com]

quoute:
"The recovered cylinder, which was about 10 inches long and weighed 20 pounds, contained four rods of germanium-68, used in medical-imaging cameras. Their total radioactivity is 684 megaBecquerels, the equivalent of about 18 microcuries, said David McIntyre, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The rods are among the least significant sources of radioactivity from health and security perspectives, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

If someone had opened the canister, “it would take like 1,000 hours of exposure to get a skin blister,” Munoz said."

Re:FedEx? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352854)

Ah yes. The international HUB unit of radioactivity (hours until blister). This is why you run a technical interview before hiring or appointing a spokesperson.

Re:FedEx? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353720)

"This is why you run a technical interview before hiring or appointing a spokesperson."

But then again, I don't believe everything I read on the internet, either. This "story" is just another anecdote. For all I know, said "spokesman" actually is the guy who works at Denny's.

Re:FedEx? (5, Informative)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352542)

Ummm... a few points:

1) FedEx is, as far as I know, the only major carrier that handles radioactive material. It doesn't go in their regular package delivery system; they have a separate division that handles it (and biohazards, poisons, explosives, and things like that). See: http://www.fedex.com/us/services/customcritical/specialty/hazardous/index.html [fedex.com]

2) No delivery service is going to be 100% mistake free. Negative outcomes will happen in life. Get over it.

Re:FedEx? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353692)

No, but the tracking system should tell you where the items went. It's one thing to lose benign easily replaceable items, and quite another to lose radioactive materials. Granted the materials were fairly low grade, but that's still radioactive material that's lost and could be irradiating anybody as we speak.

Plus, while this stuff is apparently relatively harmless, it is quite useful if you're wanting to scare the crap out of people with a radiation scare.

I'd hazard a guess that the reason why they have a separate system for it is because the consequences are so much higher than for other packages. Consequently I would assume that they're charging more and paying closer attention.

Re:FedEx? (-1, Troll)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353714)

Ummm... a few points:

1) FedEx is, as far as I know, the only major carrier that handles radioactive material. It doesn't go in their regular package delivery system; they have a separate division that handles it (and biohazards, poisons, explosives, and things like that). See: http://www.fedex.com/us/services/customcritical/specialty/hazardous/index.html [fedex.com]

2) No delivery service is going to be 100% mistake free. Negative outcomes will happen in life. Get over it.

1) What's your point?
2) Really? I didn't know that.

Re:FedEx? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352548)

I can't believe that fedex accepts shipment of radioactive material. they have restrictions on explosives, corrosives, compressed gasses, etc.

Re:FedEx? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352876)

Maybe because explosives, corrosives, compressed gasses, etc all have the potential take down a cargo plane if the material explodes, leaks, etc. However, low level radio active materials cannot.

Re:FedEx? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353294)

Which is why all that stuff goes through a special part of fedex which uses fedex ground for much of it.

Re:FedEx? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353288)

They ship all that stuff, just costs extra.

Re:FedEx? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352786)

I can, people do unapproved things all the time either because they are ignorant of the potential consequences or because they thing (rightly or wrongly) that the probability is low enough that they can get away with it.

Re:FedEx? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352886)

I was reading an article in a journal (Science I think?) back in the 90s, about the 1918 flu virus. The researches drew some conclusions about the old virus by applying more modern techniques, including sequencing. They obtained the virus from US military tissue samples (apparently the US military preserved tissue samples from dead soldiers back then - in paraffin I think).

They mentioned that they shipped the samples by FedEx. So, samples of tissue containing a plague that killed a substantial portion of the human race were in some box on the back of a truck right next to somebody's toner cartridge delivery and some legal records...

Re:FedEx? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353306)

So?

You think people open random fedex boxes and eat whatever they find inside?

It seems if it was sealed/preserved well enough to not rot it was pretty safe.

Re:FedEx? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353596)

True enough, it is very unlikely that anything bad would have happened to the box. However, consider that if something bad DID happen, what the consequences would be.

Talk about a black swan...

Re:FedEx? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353752)

Doubtful, it would have been as dangerous had it emerged today. Part of the problem was that it was incorrectly believed to be a strain of bacteria rather than a strain of virus. Plus we have much more available in terms of antivirals and a much better understanding of how to keep people safe. The masks probably did more harm than good as they only blocked the influenza virus in airborne spit.

Additionally, much less of the work that people do requires people to actually leave the home, and we now know that the further away you stand the less likely you are to get infected. Take a look at what happened with the H1N1, if you don't believe me.

Re:FedEx? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353412)

Obviously, transporting the active ingredients for a nuclear warhead or a load of spent fuel-piping hot(thermally and in radiation terms) from a reactor would be a terrible plan; but you underestimate the sheer volume of (relatively small) radioactive sources that need to be routinely transported to keep medicine and industry running. Medical imaging and radiotherapy require a grab-bag of radiation sources, some hot enough that they have to be manufactured within days or weeks of use, and industrial inspection, quality control, disinfection, and sundry other purposes require a good deal more.

Shipping them without proper packaging, padding, a well-sealed pig, and so forth, would be deeply irresponsible; but the idea of simply pulling that(quite substantial) mass of goods out of the ordinary path of shipping is ludicrous. Unless extremely well secured, a specialized shipping service would be more vulnerable to theft and diversion, as well as more expensive. A heavily secured secondary channel would be an incredibly expensive overreaction to a minor incident.

As it is, packing it properly and just shipping it like anything else that you really want arriving; but isn't otherwise a big deal, is an excellent compromise between cost, safety, and efficiency...

Re:FedEx? (4, Informative)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353728)

I cannot believe someone thought it was a good idea to FedEx radioactive material. Someone needs to be fired.

Why would it be wrong to hire a shipping company - in this case, FedEx - which has extensive experience in handling moderately hazardous materials and is properly licensed to do so?

FedEx Ground will handle Class 7 Radioactive Material I materials (bearing the 'radioactive white I' placards and labels) only [fedex.com] ; that's the lowest class.

Material meets the White I threshold if the measured radioactivity at the surface of the shipping package does not exceed 0.5 millirem per hour; most White I packages actually fall far below that level. The legal maximum exposure for civilians in the U.S. is 500 millirem per year, and 'radiation workers' are permitted ten times that. Even if we assume that the package is right at the edge of what's permissible, you would have to strap the box directly to your ass for more than a month to get close to the civilian limit.

Could one get a higher dose if you opened the package and removed the radioactive material from its inner container(s)? Sure -- but that takes a special kind of stupid. All of the packaging is going to be emblazoned with the 'radiation' trefoil symbol; you've got to assume that even if the package were routed to the wrong destination, the receiver is going to hand it right back to the FedEx guy. (Unless, of course, it's a recipient who regularly handles radioactives, in which case, still no worries.)

This isn't a case where someone decided to cut corners and put radioactive material in an unmarked box to save a few bucks on shipping. It was properly packaged, properly labelled material, accompanied by all the appropriate paperwork and handed over to an approved, accredited, regulated shipper. Yes, someone at FedEx screwed up, but it looks like their procedures for handling lost packages seem to have worked as they should. This is a non-story which is being blown out of proportion by people who don't understand and can't appropriately weigh the risks of handling radioactive materials. ~~~~

Well I wouldn't know anything about that... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352370)

But I did get this box of great door props the other day from Fedex.

Just jammed the rod right under the door at the office, works like a charm.

contradiction much .. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352378)

TFA clearly states that the rods were located and its radioactive container was not opened.

"The rods were incased in a metal container called a "pig" that contains their radiation. Munoz said when they were recovered at the Knoxville station Friday no one had opened that casing."

"Everything's fine, the pig itself was not opened, and we're making arrangements to deliver it to the recipient," Munoz said.

Re:contradiction much .. (5, Informative)

pickens (49171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353006)

Actually at the time this story was submitted to Slashdot and posted to the front page, the rods had not been located.

The story was updated after the rods were found but Fox didn't mention that they had changed the story, given the story a different headline, and kept the whole story at the same URL. Normally when a story changed this substantially, the news organization publishes a new story, or at least notes that the story has been updated or corrected.

Here is the cached version of the story and the headline at the time it was submitted as a story to Slashdot.

http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=radioactive+rods+fox+news&d=1094018597270&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=d977f9e4,d2527ef2 [bingj.com]

FedEx Searching for Radioactive Shipment That Vanished Between N.D. and Tenn.

not shocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352392)

Big surprise... lost in Tennessee. As a TN resident i can say that not only FedEx but UPS and the USPS havent a clue here

Re:not shocked (2, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352898)

As a former resident of Memphis who knew a number of Fedex employees there at the Fedex corporate office, there are a number of very bright Fedex employes in tennessee, and even the delivery drivers claim that they have greater oversight there since they are so close to the main office.

A single misplaced package doesn't imply incompetence given the millions of packages delivered daily. I've sent hundreds of packages (including when I lived in TN) through Fedex and only had one get completely lost. I've had a similar experience with UPS.

Radioactive? (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352396)

Man, I thought it was bad when the Canada Post delivery guy was stealing my review copies of video games from Activision.

Bad summary (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352398)

The article linked actually says they already found them. What is with these craptastic and sensationalist titles today?

Re:Bad summary (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352460)

The article linked actually says they already found them. What is with these craptastic and sensationalist titles today?

Have you considered the slight possibility that when this story was submitted to /. the rods were missing, and have been found (and TFA updated) since?

Re:Bad summary (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352484)

Yes but its an editor's job to review that kind of thing before putting it on the front page - or at least appending an update to the bottom of the article (as they sometimes do for bigger stories)

Re:Bad summary (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352496)

Yes but its an editor's job to review that kind of thing before putting it on the front page - or at least appending an update to the bottom of the article (as they sometimes do for bigger stories)

Slashdot has editors?

Re:Bad summary (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352538)

He MUST be new here.

Re:Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352492)

Have you considered the slight possibility that when this story was submitted to /. the rods were missing, and have been found (and TFA updated) since?

It's impressive enough he read the article once.

FedEx Flat-Rate RADShip (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352404)

If it glows, it goes.

I can only imagine... (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352432)

FedEx CEO gets called in the middle of the night.
"Yeah, uh, boss..."
"*Yawn* Just spit it out, man."
"It's about the rods, sir."
"The rods?"
"The radioactive rods, sir."
"What %$^&ing idiot would send radioactive rods through FedEx, anyway? So, what about the radioactive rods?"
"S-sir... We lost them, sir."
"%$^&."

Re:I can only imagine... (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352504)

I bet that there is going to put some disclamer on fedex boxes, and shipping labels and stuff, in BIG letters that they do not accept anything radioactive.

Re:I can only imagine... (2, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353010)

They already have a procedure for accepting radioactive goods, why would they change that because of a single temporarily misplaced package? It's not like this is the first radioactive package they've hauled, and I'm sure it's not the first that they've misplaced.

Rods recovered, not opened (2, Informative)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352438)

According to TFA the rods have now been recovered, unopened at a FedEx facility in Knoxville. Panic over.

'humor' tag (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352446)

How is this funny? Does it amuse you? Funny how? How the fuck is this funny?

Re:'humor' tag (2, Informative)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352776)

Holy outrage, Batman! Different people are amused by different things. Sometimes they're amused by something that offends you.

Media Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352450)

I always ship my radioactive rods Media Mail to save $$$$$...

Fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352478)

This is a non-story. FedEx actually handles a LOT of radio-active material and the only people at any level of risk are the crew on long flights. Quit whining, grow a pair of testicles, and realize that just because it's "radioactive" doesn't mean the world is going to end if someone looks at it wrong. Oh, and learn how to package your shipments properly so that the address and airway bill don't fall off. Then you won't have to get yelled at by your boss and then shuffle the blame onto the delivery company.

There are some incompetent fools in this story (and not just the editors!), but they don't work at FedEx.

Re:Fools (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352574)

Quit whining, grow a pair of testicles, and realize that just because it's "radioactive" doesn't mean the world is going to end if someone looks at it wrong.

Well, I had a working pair of testicles before but I suspected something was wrong with them when I got scared and read this story and your quote. So I went to the doctor, and got them checked to make sure they were functioning. He said they were working fine, but unfortunately he used a medical device with some radioactive material for the testing, and now they won't work :(

Horrible article (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352482)

This is supposed to be "News for Nerds" - so why link to a Fox News article with almost no technical information whatsoever? For example: what nuclide was involved? How high was the activity?
After some searching on Google News, I found this article [go.com] . Apparently, it was 684 MBq of Germanium (which should mean it's 76Ge). Unfortunately, that isotope is not in any of my data sheets, so I can't tell you what that means in terms of dose rate...

Re:Horrible article (2, Informative)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352810)

Apparently, it was 684 MBq of Germanium (which should mean it's 76Ge). Unfortunately, that isotope is not in any of my data sheets, so I can't tell you what that means in terms of dose rate...

Correction: it was 68Ge. As I stated, I couldn't find it in my data sheets, so I just looked at a list of germanium isotopes - which only listed naturally occurring ones. Silly me!

I do however have data for the next step in the decay chain, 68Ga (68Ge decays by electron capture, so let's just disregard that first decay). The first sheet I found put it at 0.103 mSv/h/MBq beta skin dose and 0.173 mSv/h/MBq gamma at 30 cm. At 684 MBq, that means a dose rate of about 70 and 120 mSv/h at 30 cm, respectively.
So no, these sources weren't particularly dangerous. Even at that close a distance (if you don't speak metric, 30 cm is about a foot), it would take half a day of exposure to become acutely ill (radiation sickness [wikimedia.org] starts setting in at around 1 Sv). And as radiation sources don't tend to be that big, you can probably consider these rods point sources, which means that the inverse square law [wikimedia.org] applies: at double the distance - only 60 cm - it would take four times as long.

Re:Horrible article (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353308)

Yep - most likely fuel for a Gallium-68 generator [wikipedia.org] , which is used as a positron source for calibrating PET scanners (article says "CT scanner" but meh, details - it's lost nucular stuff!)

Re:Horrible article (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353740)

This is supposed to be "News for Nerds" - so why link to a Fox News article with almost no technical information whatsoever?

Because slashdot editors just don't give a damn anymore.

FedEx insanity (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352546)

Just last week we shipped some laptops from one work location to another, and had to go through the process of getting proper package labeling due to the lithium ion batteries being contained inside. After getting everything labeled per their regulations, FedEx rejected and returned the shipment because there were two parentheses missing in the shipping label text. We added the two parentheses and it shipped fine.

Re:FedEx insanity (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352784)

Just last week we shipped some laptops from one work location to another, and had to go through the process of getting proper package labeling due to the lithium ion batteries being contained inside. After getting everything labeled per their regulations, FedEx rejected and returned the shipment because there were two parentheses missing in the shipping label text. We added the two parentheses and it shipped fine.

What's wrong with that? They're parentheses for God's sake! They're important.

Don't you know anything about programming?

Labels (1)

denshao2 (1515775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352590)

I'm assuming that the contents should be labeled as radioactive, and that should eliminate the problem of an unsuspecting person getting a large dose of radiation from playing with the contents of the box.

Fox News Changed the Story at the Original URL (3, Informative)

pickens (49171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352616)

Actually at the time this story was submitted, the rods had not been located.

The story was updated on the Fox News Site after the rods were found but they kept the original URL.

Here is the cached version of the story at the time it was submitted as a story to Slashdot.

http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=radioactive+rods+fox+news&d=1094018597270&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=d977f9e4,d2527ef2 [bingj.com]

FedEx Searching for Radioactive Shipment That Vanished Between N.D. and Tenn.

By Diane Macedo

Published November 26, 2010

| FoxNews.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - FedEx reports that a shipment of radioactive rods used in medical equipment has vanished while being sent from North Dakota to Tennessee.

FedEx spokeswoman Sandra Munoz says the rods, which are used for quality control in CT scans, were being returned to their manufacturer in Knoxville, Tenn., from a hospital in Fargo, N.D. Three shipments left the hospital earlier this week, but only two arrived at their destination.

"We're looking for that third one," Munoz told FoxNews.com.

Based on tracking information, FedEx is focusing its search in the Tennessee area, Munoz said, but as a normal precaution the company alerted all of its stations "in the event that it got way late and went to another station by accident."

The rods are incased in a metal container called a pig that Munoz says is roughly 10 inches tall and weighs about 20 pounds.

"As long as people do not try to open the metal container they will not be exposed to any remaining radiation," she said.

But Fox News Medical Contributor Dr. Marc Siegel says if someone does open the container it could pose some serious health risks.

"I don't believe it has the degree of radiation that, if it were opened, your skin would suddenly slop off. But the concern would be, if this got opened inadvertently and someone didn't know what it was and then was repeatedly exposed to it over several days, it could cause a problem with radiation poisoning," Siegel said. "The people that use this equipment in a hospital use protective shielding with it."

The lesson here, he says, is that active medical material must always be transported in a way that ensures that the general public cannot get access to it.

"Medical devices should not be FedEx'ed. They should be sent under a special service," Siegel said. "There are courier services and several other ways to do that without getting into the general pool. I think that was a mistake that's not generally the way medical supplies are sent.

"If FedEx wants to be involved in transporting medical materials, it should be completely separate and with all kinds of checks and balances so this can't happen," he added.

Munoz says FedEx follows a series of regulations when transporting objects like the rods in this shipment. This was no exception.

"There are regulations on how this type of equipment has to be packaged, the quantities that can be shipped, and we were all within the regulatory requirements," she said.

Re:Fox News Changed the Story at the Original URL (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353296)

... the company alerted all of its stations "in the event that it got way late and went to another station by accident."

The rods are incased in a metal container ... ...your skin would suddenly slop off. ... ... must always be transported in a way that ensures that the general public cannot get access to it.

Okay, who did the frigging editing on this article?

It's not "way late", it's "waylaid"...which can, in some cases, make things 'way late', but that's not the point...
Things cannot be "incased", only "encased"...
Since when does radiation cause skin to "slop" off? Slough off, perhaps...

With all this, it's a minor miracle that they actually used the right spelling for "ensures"...

Seriously, doesn't anybody proof-read articles before sending them out any more? I'm not usually a spelling/grammar nazi, but sloppiness like this just chaps my ass...

Re:Fox News Changed the Story at the Original URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34353364)

Okay, who did the frigging editing on this article?

Relax, it's Fox News! They probably get more letters from their ignorant readerbase when they use correct spelling and grammar than they do when they don't. ("Hey y'alls misspellded 'slop off' in your website story.")

Re:Fox News Changed the Story at the Original URL (1)

rootmonkey (457887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353812)

I know you are just posting a quote, but for the record CT scanners are not calibrated with these radioactive pins, PET scanners are.

Radioactive is useless... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352656)

A lantern mantle is slightly radioactive as well, but nobody is terribly concerned when they're lost in shipping. The question becomes "how radioactive?".

The article references some Fox News paid commentator who's an internist, not a radiologists or CT scan technician who said "I don't believe it has the degree of radiation that, if it were opened, your skin would suddenly slop off". But then goes on to speculate about the potential for radiation poisoning. Given his qualifications and degree of confidence, it would be foolish to draw any conclusions about the safety of shipping these things via FedEx.

Slashdot isn't the only one with editing problems (1)

TagPopper (772607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352696)

From the article

The rods were incased in a metal container called a "pig" that contains their radiation.

Emphasis addeded. I suppose they do that en case the package falls into the hands of innocent children?

FedEx does require special labels and/or packaging (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352714)

A superficial google search reveals that FedEx requires special labeling for all radioactive materials and special packaging for some. But I'm sure they thank slashdotters for the suggestion.

smartpost? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352788)

Did they sent it Smartpost? That's the best way to lose a package. From Dallas to Chicago to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Ogden to Los Angeles to San Diego to Los Angeles and out for delivery. Maybe.

I like Fedex for things like this (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352812)

Because it's very rare for them to lose anything -- the boxes get there and still have the corners intact, unlike UPS (I don't have stock in either company, but my own company ships and is shipped to a lot, fedex creams ups, pure and simple). Since we weren't told what it was, maybe it was nothing hotter than a lamp mantle (the old kind, the new ones aren't radioactive at all). Surely it wasn't a therapeutic amount of Co60 or something, or the pig would have been hundreds of pounds to stop the hot gammas. You know how that is -- OMG, it's radioactive! -- probably about 1/10th as much as the face of an old big ben clock (which actually can make you sick, eventually) or a few smoke detectors. In other words, as some one who works with radioactive stuff, without a lot more info, there's nothing to see here, move on.

Break Moments in De-evolution (1)

WebManWalking (1225366) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352852)

The real problem is illustrated by all the videos of teenagers whacking each other with fluorescent bulbs across the back, till they bleed of shattered glass, just so that they can get featured on Break.com. Clearly radioactive rods are next.

Simple solution. (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34352872)

Just fill the medical kits at all of the stations with Rad-X and Rad-away and you're golden.

Nuclear Health Risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34352982)

I don't think anyone really gives a damn about nuclear health risks. If they did, this would have caused an uproar:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_n10_v62/ai_21200692/

When I first read this, I thought it was bunk. Then I started checking and found that a real business was developing for nuclear scanners in the steel industry. Radioactive scrap metal is so pervasive that large companies buying castings routinely scan the castings that they buy.

You may not get a high dose from a short exposure, but would you want the sleep on a bed made from this stuff? When we sell it to China, it can come back in any form.

 

I am the Grand Prince of Nigeria ... (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353128)

... some dumbasses from FedEx delivered me radioactive rods, instead of blood diamonds. The Princess was not amused, and said that a necklace of radioactive rods would not get her a place on Dancing with the Stars!

The royal physician snooped around with his Geiger counter, before screaming "Holy fucking shit! Jesus fucking Christ!" He then proceeded to get his hairy ass out of the Royal Quarters.

If anyone is interested in buying radioactive bars, please send me your bank account IDs, passwords, and anything else that you shouldn't send to strangers.

Re:I am the Grand Prince of Nigeria ... (1)

HonTakuan (1743436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34353304)

Why not ship FedEx? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34353314)

Most major shipping outfits provide special services for hazardous materials as well as temperature sensitive items.

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