BALTIMORE, MD (April 16, 2004) – The moisture density gauge containing nuclear material that was reported missing a few days ago was recovered by Prince George’s County Police and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) emergency responders last evening.
The gauge was recovered at approximately 5 p.m. yesterday (April 15) through the combined efforts of Prince George’s County Police and the Prince George’s County hazardous materials team at an apartment in Bladensburg.
Following recovery, the gauge was stored overnight at a secure facility in Prince George’s County where it was examined by MDE Radiological Health Program staff this morning.
A Troxler Model 3430 surface moisture density gauge was reported missing to MDE after Professional Inspection and Testing Services (PITS), Inc., based in Temple Hills, contacted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The gauge and a PITS vehicle were reported stolen to the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office April 2, after being used at a northwest Washington, D.C. job site. The vehicle was found at an impound lot in Tuxedo (Md.). A PITS Radiation Safety Officer will transport the device to the company’s Pennsylvania headquarters.
The device contains small amounts of radioactive material and is used to measure moisture and compaction in soils, concrete, asphalt and other aggregates. The yellow device was recovered in the locked position. The device is not a hazard to the public as long as the radioactive material remains locked in the device. The radioactive material it contains is Cesium-137 on an extendable rod and Americium-241 encased inside the device. A padlock is normally used to secure the Cesium-137 source in its shielded position when not in use.
MDE’s investigation into PITS continues as the company is alleged to have been conducting nuclear density gauge activities in Maryland without a license. Details regarding charges and the suspects involved in the machine’s disappearance can be obtained by contacting the Prince George’s County Police Public Information Office at (301) 772-4710.