Depleted Uranium Found at Opa-Locka Airport

Authorities were investigating after uranium was found at Opa-locka Airport. The uranium was found in a 55-gallon drum and a wooden pallet. Sharon Lawson reports. (Published Thursday, July 25, 2013)

Authorities were investigating after a part of the Opa-locka Executive Airport was evacuated on Thursday when depleted uranium was detected inside a 55-gallon drum and a wooden pallet.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Department of Environmental Protection were on scene at the airport _ located at 14201 NW 42nd Avenue _ trying to find a contractor to correctly dispose of the Uranium 238, said Mara Burger, a DEP spokeswoman.

Aerial footage shows authorities investigating after depleted uranium was found at the Opa-locka Executive Airport in Miami. (Published Thursday, July 25, 2013)

Someone had dismantled an old airplane and used the containers to dispose of the parts, said Burger. The plane dates to the when uranium was used on the outside of aircraft for navigational purposes, she said.

The plane had been chopped up and the aluminum parts with uranium on them were put into the containers, Burger said. One container is half full and the other is three-quarters full.

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"Depleted uranium is used in the fabrication of counterbalance weights. It's a common practice. However, this material must be disposed of properly. It cannot be discarded as it was in this case," said Lt. Arnold Piedrahita, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Authorities cordoned off a 150-foot radius for the hazardous materials crews to test the material. They found the radiation being released was minimal.

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Meanwhile, Burger said there will be an investigation. Authorities were tipped off to the situation from anonymous caller to the state watch office run by the Department of Emergency Management.

The airport offers aircraft maintenance and repair services.

Authorities said there were no injuries.

Stay with and NBC 6 South Florida for updates.

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