What Was Found
In the summer of 2010, when I was working for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) I received a call from a colleague in the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). He told me that an elderly gentleman had recently died and, when his apartment was being cleared out, workers found some alarming items – a box full of Nazi paraphernalia, a number of what appeared to be hand grenades and mortar and artillery shells, and a sealed box marked “radioactive” and labeled with radiation stickers. This raised some concerns, especially given the heightened profile of various hate groups around the world.
The person discovering these materials called the city’s emergency phone number, and the person taking the call, following procedure, notified the Fire and Police departments. The possible presence of radioactive materials led to the call to DOHMH; specifically, to the Bureau of Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response, in which I headed the Radiation Unit. So I grabbed some of our instruments and one of my staff and headed on over to the scene.
When we arrived, two FDNY trucks had blocked off both ends of the street and an NYPD helicopter was hovering overhead. In addition to FDNY, representatives from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were also present. Cops from the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Unit were in charge of the scene; the HazMat Unit’s senior lieutenant was someone I knew well so I found him and let him know we were on the scene.
Read the entire case study in December’s issue of NCT Magazine.