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Contact: Emily Davis, 928-638-7609
Contact: Marco De Leon, 303-969-2321
Grand Canyon, AZ - The National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are coordinating with federal and state agencies to investigate and address concerns of exposure to uranium rock samples previously stored at Grand Canyon National Park's Museum Collection building. An investigative team of radiation, industrial hygienist, and occupational health experts are reviewing available material and will be in the park in the coming weeks. The NPS expects results of this review within 90 days.
"Visitor and employee safety is our top priority," said Grand Canyon National Park Acting Superintendent Lisa Carrico. "We take this matter very seriously and the National Park Service and Department of the Interior have moved to assemble the appropriate interagency health and safety specialists to determine possible safety concerns, and clarify the relevant facts regarding this issue."
In June 2018, a routine environmental audit flagged three five-gallon buckets containing uranium rock samples at the Museum Collection building at the South Rim. On June 18, 2018, the NPS moved the samples to a restricted area at the Orphan Mine site, which is closed to visitors and most employees. Subsequent inspections of the facility have indicated that the Museum Collection building is safe for visitors and employees.
The Museum Collection building is a storage and research facility dedicated to preserving the physical artifacts that tell the Grand Canyon story. The building is located in an administrative area that is separate from visitor use areas. Tours are by appointment only and visitation averages up to 1,000 visitors and researchers annually. The NPS stores objects and documents as part of research collections and to have representative samples of park resources.
The NPS and DOI investigation will examine the level of exposure and potential risk to park visitors and employees when the rock samples were present in the Museum Collection building. It will include a dose reconstruction that will allow experts to determine exposure levels present when the samples were stored in the Museum Collection building, document the park's storage practices, and review employee work and handling practices. The investigation will also review past assessment reports, provide recommendations regarding how samples are managed in the future, and address the potential need for long-term health monitoring, if applicable.
The NPS will update a recorded phone line (928-638-7688) and the park's website (https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/historyculture/muscol.htm) as new information becomes available. The public may also email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
Last updated: February 21, 2019