Depleted uranium found at Opa-Locka airport; hazmat crews on the scene

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. - The Environmental Protection Agency has been called out to the Opa-Locka Executive Airport in Miami-Dade County.

According to Miami-Dade Public Information Officer Arnold Piedrahita Jr., the Miami-Dade Hazmat team was called to investigate the possibility of exposed depleted uranium in a scrap yard area of the airport where old planes are taken apart.

Shortly before 1 p.m. crews confirmed the material inside a 55-gallon drum was depleted uranium.

Crews quickly evacuated a 150-foot area around the drum and are now monitoring radiation levels, which are said to be minimal.

It's unclear where the uranium came from.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website:

The U.S. military uses tank armor and some bullets made with depleted uranium (DU) to penetrate enemy armored vehicles, and began using DU on a large scale during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

The process of manufacturing enriched uranium from natural uranium used in nuclear reactors or weapons leaves "depleted" uranium. DU has 40 percent less radioactivity, but the same chemical toxicity as natural uranium.

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