San Carlos: Radioactive material identified, contained, secured

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SAN CARLOS (BCN) People living in a San Carlos neighborhood were forced to evacuate after radioactive material was found inside an unoccupied home Thursday. The house is located on Cedar Street between Brittan and Arroyo Avenues.

Authorities identified, contained and secured the material Thursday evening, Tara Peterson, assistant city manager for the city said.

As of shortly after 5 p.m., local authorities had completed their work at a home in the 1000 block of Cedar Street. Responders from the state will collect and dispose of the material Saturday.%INLINE%

Peterson said, "There's no danger to the public." 

Neighbors said the home was in probate getting ready to go to market after the homeowner passed away. Crews were likely cleaning out the house when the discovery was made. A sheriff's deputy stood guard, making sure no one entered the property.

“Something was wrong but I didn't know what,” said Neighbor Wilma Velez.

Peterson said the man who lived in the home died earlier this year and his family members notified the city around noon Thursday about some containers that may contain radioactive material. 

Authorities immediately entered the home and detected the hazardous material inside a wooden shed in the backyard.

“There was four or five sheds in the back,” said Redwood City Fire Battalion Chief Geoffrey Balton. “All of them were clear except for this last one which they did get a hit on the radiological meters within about a foot of the shed.”

The discovery prompted surrounding streets to be shut down.Cedar Street between Arroyo and Brittan avenues is open again, sheriff's officials said. 

“What was that doing in there in the first place?” said Neighbor Wilma Velez.

Authorities identified the material as radium 286 and cobalt 57 and determined it was contained to the shed and radiation was no longer a risk.

“That material was probably in the house for many years,” said Balton.

Neighbors said the home belonged to 82-year-old Ronald Seefred who lived alone and passed away in January. They said he worked for Stanford Linear Accelerator Center or SLAC, a research laboratory under the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Jason Burmeister lives next door and believes his neighbor stored it safely.

“He works at a place like that, he must know, again I don't know if that's where it's from," said Burmeister. “My neighbor lived a very long time. I can't imagine it impacted his health in any way.”

Burton Park has since reopened and the San Carlos Youth Center will reopen Saturday. 

Officials from the California Department of Public Health plan to be at the home Friday morning to confirm the material, collect and properly dispose it.

Bay Ciy News contributed to this report.