Thursday, February 25, 2010

Radioactive footprints

"A grad student in a lab down the hall attempted to snap freeze a tube containing radioactive protein. Some of the liquid nitrogen leaked into the tube, and it exploded. Shortly thereafter, a series of radioactive footprints (from at least two people) was discovered that trailed down the hall and into a common room. The entire hallway and freezer area for ten labs were blocked for days while cleanup crews worked. Months later, this single spot of radiation remains, somehow impervious to countoff."


  1. Thing is, at least radioactivity is traceable and there's a team trained in clean up. Biohazard, not THAT's scary stuff to have explode in a N2(l) tube explosion!

  2. Did this event happen to occur in a lab in a New England state?

    If so, I believe I am a student at this research institution as I have heard this story from multiple people. If not, apparently this exact event happened somewhere else as well. Epic.

  3. Ha! During the relevant training, the radiation safety people where I did my M.Sc. related a similar story. Rather than an exploding liquid-nitrogen event, though, this was simple carelessness, and some radionasty was spilled on the floor, where it was promptly picked up by the soles of the careless person's shoes, and tracked through several hallways.

    Those footprints were all cleanable by countoff, though, which is essentially just oven-cleaner AFAIK.