Low-Level nuclear waste incident in Lincoln

By: Cole Miller

Nuclear waste travels through Nebraska almost daily. On Saturday, a bit of scare here in Lincoln. Officials say the incident at 56th and Highway 2 could have been worse. The truck was carrying low-level waste, but thankfully it didn't end up causing any harm.  Emergency vehicles swarm a flatbed semi Saturday after it stopped too quickly, causing its load to shift, it happened near 56th and Highway 2.  That load contained low-level nuclear waste.

“The public should stay away from anything labeled radioactive material,” Environmental Health Specialist Ralph Martin said.

Ralph Martin is an Environmental Health Specialist who works closely on these types of events.  He says in this instance, the low-level waste never left its container, which was a very good thing.

“Well, anytime you have radioactive material in a place it's not meant to be, you would have concern. The levels of this material would be unlikely that anybody could be injured,” Martin said.

So we asked the question, what exactly is low-level Nuclear waste? Here's how the U.S. Nuclear regulatory commission defines it.  Items that have been contaminated with radioactive material or that have been exposed to radiation. These items usually include shoe covers and clothing, rags, equipment and syringes. The radioactivity of the items ranges from levels found in nature, to sometimes, highly radioactive.

Martin says items like these travel through Nebraska almost daily. But don't be alarmed, he says, there are strict rules when it comes to transporting it. Low-level waste is usually stored and stabilized in solid containers. Once the radioactivity wears off, officials say it can then be taken to your typical landfill or trash site.