FedEx Finds Radioactive Shipment That Vanished Between N.D. and Tenn.



FedEx says it has located a shipment of radioactive rods used in medical equipment that had vanished while being sent from North Dakota to Tennessee.

The rods, which are used for quality control in CT scans, were found at the FedEx station in Knoxville, Tenn., FedEx spokeswoman Sandra Munoz told Friday.

A hospital in Fargo, N.D. returned three shipments of the rods to their manufacturer in Knoxville, Tenn., earlier in the week, but only two arrived at their destination.

The rods were incased in a metal container called a "pig" that contains their radiation. Munoz said when they were recovered at the Knoxville station Friday no one had opened that casing.

"Everything's fine, the pig itself was not opened, and we're making arrangements to deliver it to the recipient," Munoz said.

Fox News Medical Contributor Dr. Marc Siegel says FedEx is lucky no one opened the container. 

"I don't believe it has the degree of radiation that, if it were opened, your skin would suddenly slop off. But the concern would be, if this got opened inadvertently and someone didn't know what it was and then was repeatedly exposed to it over several days, it could cause a problem with radiation poisoning," Siegel said. "The people that use this equipment in a hospital use protective shielding with it."

The lesson here, he says, is that active medical material must always be transported in a way that ensures that the general public cannot get access to it.

"Medical devices should not be FedEx'ed. They should be sent under a special service," Siegel said. "There are courier services and several other ways to do that without getting into the general pool. I think that was a mistake that's not generally the way medical supplies are sent.

"If FedEx wants to be involved in transporting medical materials, it should be completely separate and with all kinds of checks and balances so this can't happen," he added.

Munoz says FedEx follows a series of regulations when transporting objects like these rods, and this shipment was no exception.

"There are regulations on how this type of equipment has to be packaged, the quantities that can be shipped, and we were all within the regulatory requirements," she said.