Radioactive Manufacturing Facility Coming to Millburn?

JDidot

Wondering If anyone has heard what is happening in Millburn, NJ planning meetings of late: The Millburn Planning Board has approved the location of a radioactive drug factory in the center of town, in a flood-prone area very near the Rahway River. The facility, to be owned and operated by a company named Advanced Accelerator Applications, is also located within .4 miles of a children's daycare facility, 1 mile of the High School, and within a stone's throw of several personal residences. I was at the community board meeting last night, and believe me, people are pissed.

As a community, our Planning Board has told us that our hands are tied legally, that this France-based company is allowed to operate in this wildly inappropriate location under NJ State environmental law.

As a parent, I am looking to do everything I can to prevent radioactive materials from being located very near my child's daycare and his future elementary school, given our incidence of two hurricanes and significant flooding in recent years.

Does anyone here know what might be done to stop this facility from locating very near to schools and residences? There is no reason that I can see why this industry should be located so very near children's facilities and homes, no matter the risk level inherent in the manufacturing process or the transportation of radioactive drugs and the materials used to make them. I would argue that any risk so near to children and residences is too large a risk to take.

A local group is collecting signatures for a petition in an effort to encourage representatives to step in. Here is the link to that petition...*please sign* If you are so Inclined...as well as an article with some background information.

https://www.change.org/p/millburn-township-government-say-no-to-radioactive-drug-factory-in-millburn-nj?recruiter=2157420&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Some background:

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/millburn-slash-short-hills/sections/government/articles/radiopharmaceutical-manufacturing-proponents-face



bramzzoinks

It is not a big deal. Typical hysterical overreaction. It is a substance that is injected into people, so those people will be in much closer contact. And even if there is some extremely likely issue the half life is very short, less than a week.


j_r

Just to clarify and without speaking to potential risks, the planned location is not "the center of town," it is a commercial strip near the township border with Springfield that currently contains a number of medical facilities including a radiology practice. I might get behind a fact-based argument, but the alarmist rhetoric (for example, calling this a radioactive drug factory) ill serves the cause.


ml1

The argument seems to boil down to "won't someone please think of the children?!"


dave23

Will the facility be radioactive or are they manufacturing something called "radioactive?"


JDidot

The facility, to be located at 57 E. Willow Street, is .4 miles from a preschool. The commercial strip Is blocks away from several homes as well. I am not a scientist, but I fail to understand why a company manufacturing radioative pharmaceuticals needs to be so close to my kid's school. The fact is, this company will be processing radioactive isotopes and transporting them. Does this exist in Maplewood? Would you like it to be blocks from your homes and schools? The Rahway River runs behind the facility. Would you like to walk near the river next time the river floods into the facility's basement?


JDidot

I would add that the experts brought in to discuss the details of the company's operations In community meetings were employees of the company itself. I think people are right to have their hackles up and be searching for technical information related to this.


bramzzoinks

You are likely exposed to greater radiation from radon in your basement than you would be exposed to in the most catestrophic failure.


ridski

They manufacture 18F or Fluorine-18 products which are administered to people prior to positron emission tomography scans in order to detect diseases and tumors in the body.

18F has a half-life of 109.8 minutes, so products made with it need to be transported and used almost immediately, so hospitals with PET scanners such as Overlook, St. Barnabas and Morristown Memorial need a facility like this close by.


bramzzoinks

That is not what is going to be done at that facility. It is something different, Lutetium-177 which is injected directly as a cancer treatment. The half life is a bit longer, 6 days. But still I had a cat treated with radioactive iodine for thyroid and the half life was similar.


JDidot

From what I have read, they will employ Lutetium-177 to manufacture the new drug Lutathera. Is this the same thing?


JDidot

My concern is what will happen to my kid if there is a manufacturing accident or natural accident at the site. Flooding, hurricane, etc. I am not finding information on that or what "the plan" is in that scenario.


JDidot

The argument boils down to "think of the children." Guilty as charged. Sue me.

Know what tends to quash fear-based rhetoric? Information from a trusted, third-party source, i.e. not the company's COO.


bramzzoinks

In a flood far more nasty stuff is washed away. Stuff that does not break down in 2 weeks.

BTW this really does not belong in All Politics. Should be in Millburn.


ridski

Ah, I see. I didn't get to the research section of their site. Good stuff. We should be proud to have such products manufactured in our neighborhood.


mjh
JDidot said:
The argument boils down to "think of the children." Guilty as charged. Sue me.

It's just fine to worry about your children. But the reaction seems hysterical rather than fact-based. If you want to know about their emergency plans, ask. No need for a fact-lite hysterical-sounding petition to drive them away before you know anything about whether there is a real cause for alarm. Personally, from what I've read so far, I see no cause for alarm. The fact that the petition appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the work "radioactive" only reinforces this view.

You know there are already radioactive materials in the medical and radiology buildings in the neighborhood, right? Do you know anything about the emergency procedures for these businesses?


bramzzoinks
mjh said:


JDidot said:
The argument boils down to "think of the children." Guilty as charged. Sue me.
It's just fine to worry about your children. But the reaction seems hysterical rather than fact-based. If you want to know about their emergency plans, ask. No need for a fact-lite hysterical-sounding petition to drive them away before you know anything about whether there is a real cause for alarm. Personally, from what I've read so far, I see no cause for alarm. The fact that the petition appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to the work "radioactive" only reinforces this view.
You know there are already radioactive materials in the medical and radiology buildings in the neighborhood, right? Do you know anything about the emergency procedures for these businesses?

+1


ml1

"think of the children" is not a fact-based argument.

there may well be good reasons why this facility should not be located on that particular site. but to convince people you should be looking for good scientific information.


j_r

As a township resident, I certainly agree with you that people should be asking questions. Rather than appealing to irrational fear, the organizers of the petition would be smart to provide a science-based argument.


JDidot

I think the problem is that folks at these meetings have asked about contingency planning, and board members stated they did not have that information. I hope they will seek it out.


Jackson_Fusion

Very brief look- the material appears to be a beta emitter- the particles don't go that far and penetrate (relatively) shallowly- which makes sense, given the application. Gamma particles would blow through the body no matter where it was placed, which obviously would be.... Sub optimal for this sort of radiation therapy to say the least.

Most nuclear medical scanners use much nastier stuff- cesium isotopes are gamma emitters (as would be necessary to scan) with a half life of 30 years, as an example. There's an awful story about scrap thieves coming across an "abandoned" medical device that was left in place I believe after a bankruptcy and foreclosure in... Mexico? People died, including children, because they painted themselves with the glowing core.


I don't blame the OP for being concerned, and I laud the impulse to make sure "a plan" is in place, but a bit of reading should have the dual benefit of allaying some fears and of making sure the solutions demanded are in proportion to the "threat", such as it is.


JDidot
bramzzoinks said:
You are likely exposed to greater radiation from radon in your basement than you would be exposed to in the most catestrophic failure.

Are you a scientist working in this field? If so, I would love to hear some of the science behind this from parties outside of the company at the community board meetings. Really.


unicorn33

This discussion should be in the Millburn category.


bramzzoinks

JDidot: When was the last time you checked the radon level in your basement?


JDidot
ml1 said:
"think of the children" is not a fact-based argument.
there may well be good reasons why this facility should not be located on that particular site. but to convince people you should be looking for good scientific information.

Children are not my argument, but my motivation for seeking more information about the safety of the process. I am passing along the petition because it is all I can do to underline the need and desire for more information to the planning board. It is not my personal petition, but the 600+ signatures on it seem to reveal a need for more information.

Moving this discussion to Millburn board as suggested. Thanks to the kind people who provided information. To those who like to sling sarcasm, thanks but that was not at all helpful. Regardless of your Individual disposition, have a great weekend all.


ml1

the petitioner isn't asking for more information. she's asking to stop the construction of the facility. I would expect someone who is asking for support to "Say NO to radioactive drug factory in Millburn NJ" would inform potential signatories about what the science says.


Jackson_Fusion
ml1 said:
the petitioner isn't asking for more information. she's asking to stop the construction of the facility. I would expect someone who is asking for support to "Say NO to radioactive drug factory in Millburn NJ" would inform potential signatories about what the science says.

To that end- I should clarify- it's not as though beta particles are "safe". They're not. If they were, they wouldn't be worth a thing for cancer treatment. But the point is they don't travel far from the emission source and when they do get close to living tissue they don't penetrate the way that gamma radiation does. They do cause burns and damage, however, including potentially cancer.

It is not gamma radiation, and it's not pumping out huge doses over short periods of time. So we are talking about long term contamination (not really relevant given the half life) OR a long term, undetected exposure ongoing.... eg, somehow the manufacturing process emits radioactive particles on a consistent basis, renewing exhausted material with new emitting material.

Short half lives can be dangerous in some circumstances because if you're decaying rapidly you're pumping your radiation out fast- so it really comes down to set of variables- how long, how much, what kind. We can see 6.5 days- how much, they seem to be claiming "low", and what kind appears to be beta.

Maybe this helps you in formulating both questions and in recognizing what steps will satisfy you from a safety standpoint. Or not.

Edit to add: not super relevant, but the incident I was describing earlier occurred in Brazil, not Mexico- it's called the Goiania Incident, it sucked, and it is a cautionary tale on why it's important to be precise and careful when it comes to radioactivity- but at the same time not make a maniac out of yourself over it (no one on this thread is IMO).

There was one back in the 60's in Mexico City too, also having to do with improper disposal/storage of radiographic material, but the one that has books written about it is the Brazil one


Formerlyjerseyjack

Related issue: One concern expressed is the proximity to the Rahway River/ hurricane damage. The Rahway river flows towards Springfield. It does not flow in the direction of the two day care centers on Main Street. So that is one concern that is not relevant to the concerns of Millburn residents.


Komarovsky

FYI that stretch of the rahway river is protected beyond a 1%(100yr) annual chance return period flood by a combination of levees and channel modifications. Because of this FEMA classifies the area that the factory is going to be built in as a 0.2% annual chance return period(500yr) area. You can view the map here: http://fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=cbe088e7c8704464aa0fc34eb99e7f30&extent=-74.31068526989765,40.712099921006015,-74.29575073010234,40.720231845690634



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