Indeed I was held against my will in the E.R. area and detained for 5.5 hours as my mental situation was evaluated first by medical doctor Anne DeLonais and eventual by an man named “Adam” who identified himself as the psychiatric admittance evaluator. Adam interviewed me in some depth and also called my personal physician, associated with, and on the board of the hospital. I understand that my doctor told him
That I had experience and knowledge in this area, and if I had declared a radiological problem, that I should be taken seriously. During my stay in the evaluation unit, Dr. DeLonais took my Geiger Counter, with which she was somewhat familiar and did a radiological survey of the area on her own, reporting back that it was still there, had not been cleaned up nor was the cafeteria closed or any warning tape or other obstruction placed over the area involved.
Eventually I was released from the hospital after 5 ½ hours with no apologies, no explanation and no chargers being filed.
I arrived home after midnight and immediately called the NRC operator on duty, Carl Dietrich, at the hotline, 1-301-816-5100 and briefly told the scenario and asked if they were interested. The answer was affirmative and I was debriefed and recorded in detail.
The next morning, 9 Dec 2008, I was contacted by the region 3 NRC investigative coordinator, a Mr. Paul Poelke. Region 3 is the issuer of materials licenses in Missouri and specifically the Hannibal Regional Hospital. Paul and I have worked together on a few other radiological issues in the past, and he wanted some details filled in on this incident and wanted my advice if he should send an investigator or simply ask the hospital RSO for a synopsis. It is my opinion that the proposed 96-hour delay was a strategy to delay my NRC report and to give any short half lived isotopes a chance to go through normal nuclear decay and be, in effect, undetectable. This tactic is not valid however, since the isotope has a high probability of being Tc-99m, and decays from a 6 hour half life gamma emitter into a 213,000 year half life beta emitter, Tc-99. this is easily detectable, but it takes a different set of equipment to do so.
In the past, I have similarly uncovered accidental leaks and spills in several institutions, including some rather serious radium breaches. In every other case, my information was noted and action taken. In this case I was treated as if I were a terrorist. I suggest that my 28 years in law enforcement electronics has left me in a particularly acute if not unique situation to evaluate and report safety issues such as this.