French workers made sick by Indian radioactive lift buttons

GRENOBLE, October 22, 2008 (AFP) – French factory workers were exposed to excessive levels of radiation as they handled luminous lift buttons made using unsafe material from India, officials said.

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) classed the incident at “Level Two” on a scale of seven because of the exposure of more than 10 people to doses exceeding the reglementary limit, the ASN said in a statement Tuesday.

The incident happened in early October in a factory of the Mafelec company in the east-central French town of Chimilin. The workers were using materials that came from an Indian supplier. Faint traces of Cobalt 60, a radioactive form of the metal cobalt, were found in the buttons. The ASN said that a “Level Two” incident in a company outside of the nuclear sector was extremely rare.