Volume 75, Number 35 | January 18 - 24, 200

N.Y.U. rolls out barrel, carefully, after closing street

By jefferson siegel

Last Friday Greene St. between Wavery Pl. and Washington Pl. was closed for most of the day as New York University removed equipment containing radioactive materials from one of its buildings.

The apparatus, known as an irradiator, stood in front of 247 Greene St. most of the afternoon before being loaded onto a truck.

“It’s a relatively common laboratory device,” John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesperson, said of the appliance, which is designed to irradiate biological samples. “The device had been used by a biologist who was a cancer researcher at N.Y.U. who’s no longer here. So, there was no need for the device to remain at N.Y.U.”

The apparatus, about 3 or 4 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall, was housed in a 7-foot-tall canister marked “Radioactive Materials.” It was removed from within the set of buildings that constitute the Silver Center.

Although Beckman assured there was no danger involved in moving the irradiator, he said, “In a post-9/11 world, when one moves devices such as this or materials such as this, one takes more precautions than might have otherwise been the case in a pre-9/11 world.”

Police sawhorses blocked traffic at both ends of the street as N.Y.U. security guards advised pedestrians to find an alternate route. “The device is very heavy,” Beckman explained. “It’s a little more than 2 tons. Given that it had to be picked up, moved onto a truck and that kind of thing, it’s better not to have pedestrians nearby.”

Beckman allayed concerns about the possibility of spills or leaks. “It’s almost impossible to spill anything from this device,” he said. “These devices are designed in a way so that the radioactive material inside is completely shielded from the outside,” he explained. “This was the only irradiator that we have on the Washington Square campus.”

By 5 p.m. Greene St. was reopened.

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