On September 14 at about 8:15 a.m., the Barton County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a potential radiation incident just east of the City of Great Bend at the junction of US 56 and K-156.
A sub-contractor, working for the Kansas Department of Transportation, was just north of the junction on K-156 Highway testing the density of newly laid asphalt with a device that contained a radioactive source. While the instrument was setting on the roadway, a truck tractor and trailer ran over the tool, along with several cars striking it. The part of the instrument containing the radioactive pellet was missing, evidently it lodged in part of the vehicle and was no longer at the scene.
The Sheriff’s Office responded with a Geiger Counter and determined there was very low-level radiation in the parts remaining at the scene as would be expected.
Members of the Sheriff’s Office, the Great Bend Fire Department and Hazmat Response Inc. began searching for the missing piece of the equipment that contained the radioactive source. It was feared the piece may have become lodged in one of the vehicles and was out of the area.
After about an hour, personnel located the missing piece about ½ mile from the scene. It was checked with a Geiger counter to make sure that the radioactive source inside had not been exposed. It appeared to be intact. The remains of the instrument were returned to the subcontractor for disposal.
It appears there was no threat to the public.