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Barrels Containing Radioactive Chemical Discovered Near Bellflower Mobile Home Park

BELLFLOWER (CBSLA) – Hazmat crews cleaned up barrels containing a radioactive metallic chemical liquid found in an abandoned building in Bellflower earlier this week, forcing nearby residents to evacuate.

Barrels Containing Radioactive Chemical Discovered Near Bellflower Mobile Home Park
Los Angeles County Fire Department hazmat crews and officials with the Environmental Protection Agency conduct a clean-up in a building in Bellflower, Calif., which had several barrels containing the radioactive chemical Thorium. Aug. 2, 2018. (CBS2)

The barrels were discovered in an outbuilding in the 9600 block of East Alondra Boulevard Tuesday.

Environmental Protection Agency officials, along with a Los Angeles County Fire Department hazmat team, responded and determined the barrels contained a chemical known as Thorium 232.

The EPA said the danger is minimal, but determined that while the barrels were being cleaned up, 15 units of a nearby mobile home park needed to be evacuated.

Hazmat crews are only working in the evenings and residents said they have been forced from their homes between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. The Red Cross was assisting them with temporary housing.

The clean-up operation was expected to run through Friday. There have been no reports of illnesses. It is unclear why the barrels were in the building to begin with.

Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal, according to the EPA. It is used make ceramics, welding rods, camera and telescope lenses, heat-resistant paint and metals used in the aerospace industry, the EPA reports. In the future, it could also potentially be used as fuel to power a nuclear reactor.

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