Container with depleted uranium found at Miami-area airport

MIAMI Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:16pm EDT

1 of 2. A rescue team sets up a perimeter area as a hazardous materials team investigates after depleted uranium was found in a 55-gallon drum in the area of a dismantled airplane at Opa-locka Executive Airport in Miami, Florida in this image taken from video courtesy of NBC6 July 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/NBC6/ via Reuters

MIAMI (Reuters) - A 55-gallon drum containing depleted uranium was found near a dismantled plane at a Miami-area airport on Thursday, prompting a brief evacuation but officials said it posed no environmental risk.

The uranium was discovered on old aircraft parts which had been broken up and placed into a container at the Opa-loca Executive Airport, said Mara Burger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

"Someone disposed of the plane inappropriately," she said.

The parts contained uranium 238, a material once used on airplanes for navigational purposes, Burger said.

No injuries were reported and a hazmat team dispatched to the airport found only minimal levels of radiation, said Lieutenant Arnold Piedrahita, a spokesman for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

The airport handles some secondary traffic for Miami International Airport and offers aircraft maintenance and repair services.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Alden Bentley)