Watch CBS News

'Scientists Like To Tinker' - Radioactive Material Safely Removed From San Carlos Home

SAN CARLOS (CBS SF) -- State officials on Friday partially catalogued and removed radioactive material found in a shed behind a vacant San Carlos home, fire officials said.

The California Department of Public Health and other agencies were at the home in the 1000 block of Cedar Street, where the material was discovered Thursday afternoon in the backyard shed, said Redwood City Fire Chief Stan Maupin, whose department serves the city of San Carlos.

The home was formerly occupied by Ronald Seefred, a retired scientist who had worked at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Menlo Park.

Seefred died in January at age 82. The radioactive materials were discovered while the home was being prepared for sale, Maupin said.

Fire officials said the materials discovered include Cobalt 57 and Radium 226, and were in several small vials in very small quantities. But Ephrime Mekuria, a physicist with the state public health department, said they found Radium but not Cobalt.

Friday afternoon the materials were being taken to a lab in Richmond where Mekuria said they'll determine exactly what was found. Then the materials will be stored in a radioactive storage facility in the city.

The material is not considered to be a threat to the community, and the challenge is sorting through the material and cataloguing it, in order to remove it to the proper locations for disposal, Maupin said.

It's not known how it came to be at the property, or why it was brought there.

Mekuria said, "A lot of scientists like to tinker" and added that this is not the first time radioactive material has been found in someone's home.

Cedar Street from Brittan to Arroyo avenues has reopened, San Mateo County sheriff's officials said. No evacuations were ordered.

City officials said on Friday that no radiation has been detected outside the shed and there is no threat to residents in the immediate vicinity.

Mekuria said the material "was stored appropriately."

"The containment was good," he said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.