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EPA Broadens Search for Radiation Near Old Factory

November 23, 1991

EAST LANSDOWNE, Pa. (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency is checking thousands of homes in a 12.5-square-mile area for traces of radioactivity from a 70-year-old radium processing plant.

The EPA advised one family Friday to leave their home. Gerald and Catherine Trainor and their two daughters were the third family to receive such a warning in the past eight days.

Officials said radiation levels in the East Lansdowne house were 23 times above the recommended standard for residences, but below the maximum limits for workers in the nuclear industry.

They were advised to leave while tests are conducted to decide whether the radioactive material can be removed from their house.

The EPA said Friday its mobile detection van was testing within a 2-mile radius of the old industrial site, and the search could eventually reach into West Philadelphia.

It now encompasses nearly all of Upper Darby, Clifton Heights, Aldan, Yeadon and Lansdowne. The radium plant is believed to have produced hundreds of tons of sand-like residue from 1915 to 1922.

The industrial waste apparently was used to make cement, stucco and plaster for homebuilding and repairs.

Radiation levels found so far could cause illness in healthy adults if they are exposed over decades.

At the Trainor home, the EPA found contamination in exterior stucco and interior plaster walls that combined would produce an average annual radiation exposure of 2.3 rems. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits workers to five rems a year.

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