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Radioactive Documents Found in National Archives
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) MAY 12, 2000 — Researchers who are reclassifying millions of records at the National Archives facility here have discovered that some of the documents are radioactive.

Officials say the contamination is limited to a few boxes.

The contaminated documents were found in January when a researcher who was reviewing 50-year-old notes about radiation noticed gray dust and an envelope containing what appeared to be metal fragments.

Tests by the Archive's conservation laboratory identified the substance as uranium.

The facility's 50 employees were doused in a special wash and checked for radioactivity. They now keep a device on hand that can detect radiation.

The radioactive records were among 1.2 billion pieces of paper from laboratories nationwide that are being reviewed as part of President Clinton's 1995 order to declassify documents older than 25 years. The contaminated boxes could have come from any one of several laboratories.

The Energy Department plans to conduct a sweep of the College Park archives by the end of the year. Meanwhile, researchers have been told to look out for anything suspicious.

"We've notified all our reviewers to be careful,'' said Roger K. Heusser, director of the declassification project for the Department of Energy. "Most of these records are letters and reports in file folders. If you do see a packet of powder, it's pretty evident there is something unusual in there.''

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