GREAT FALLS — Emergency crews responded to the High Plains Landfill north of Great Falls on Thursday afternoon due to a possible hazardous materials incident.
Great Falls Fire Rescue says that at about 4 p.m., a dump truck bringing trash to the landfill triggered a radioactivity alarm when it went across the scales.
The Incident Commander requested assistance from the Montana National Guard’s 83rd Civil Support Team (CST). The CST along with members of the responding fire departments were able to obtain data and submit it to a lab for analysis.
Great Falls Fire Marshal Mike McIntosh said on Friday that lab results confirmed the radiological source is Iodine 131 (I-131), which is often used in treating thyroid cancer, or in imaging the thyroid.
The I-131 has been isolated and contained. The material was traced to a bag of trash that came from the home of a cancer patient who had received a treatment within the last week. The treatment causes patients to be radioactive, so some of the radiation from the patient rubbed off on what they touched. The item was thrown in the trash and that is what triggered the sensor when the garbage truck went into the landfill.
There is no hazard to the public and the High Plains Landfill is currently operating and open to the public.
Click here for more information about Iodine 131 at the CDC website.
We will update you if we get more information.