Radioactive steel components discovered in Sweden

Swedish officials discovered small traces of radioactivity on steel items imported from India and the same substance was found on Indian-made elevator buttons in France, officials said Wednesday.

The levels of Cobalt 60, a radioactive form of the metal, were considered harmless and the steel components have not been recalled, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) told AFP.

“Dutch customs discovered that a shipment of industrial flanges from India to Sweden showed traces of Cobalt 60,” SSM spokesman Mattias Sköld said.

That find led to the discovery that a similar shipment had been sent several weeks earlier from India and delivered to three companies at four sites in western, southern and central Sweden.

Sköld did not disclose the names of the companies that had received the contaminated parts, but said they were oil and heating groups.

“Inspections were carried out and it was found that the level (of Cobalt 60) found in these products was very low and wasn’t dangerous,” Sköld said.

The exact number of contaminated flanges was not known, he said. However, at one company, nine of 1,200 flanges were found to be contaminated with Cobalt 60.

On Wednesday, French elevator maker Otis said it would remove the buttons from hundreds of lifts it has installed after faint traces of Cobalt 60 were found in the Indian-made buttons.

Sköld said SSM had contacted France over the Swedish discovery.

“It seemed important to contact France to inform them of the contaminated steel flanges which also came from India,” he said.