Radioactive goldfish placidly swimming in a lemonade pitcher in a secure area of Perry Nuclear Power Plant near Cleveland, Ohio? It might have seemed like a harmless prank at the time, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said that the stunt is no joke.
The two goldfish were first discovered by power plant workers earlier in the week. The First Energy-owned plant had been shut down for 43 days for maintenance when they found the pitcher in a supposedly secure steam tunnel.
First Energy Todd Schneider said that the fish were found alive in the admittedly slightly radioactive water. They died shortly thereafter.
“The water did not kill the fish, but they were not well taken care of and they died later,” Schneider said. The 1-1/2 inch long radioactive goldfish had both expired by early Thursday morning.
As far as the company is concerned, the joke is more than just a cruel prank. Because the area where they were found is restricted to people who hold a special pass, First Energy must now answer to the NRC to explain who could have pulled off the stunt.
The Plain Dealer’s John Funk explained: “Getting into the Perry nuclear power plant is supposed to be more difficult than breaking out of a prison. Investigators want to know who brought two goldfish to work and put them in a restricted area.”
Bringing in the two fish and leaving them to die in the radioactive water is mean-spirited. But the ability to bring contraband in and out of the plant could also lead to a threat to human health.
Perry Power Plant spokeswoman Jennifer Young said that it’s currently believed that the fish walked in the door in a plastic bag similar to what you get when you buy feeder fish at the pet store. All employees are screened by a metal detector when they enter the plant, but they’re not patted down or checked with body scans.
Young said that the company is in the process of reviewing video records to see who actually placed the fish in the steam tunnel.
NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said that it wasn’t a laughing matter and that they would be closely following the nuclear power plant’s investigation.
In 2011, four contractors were accidentally exposed to hard radiation, causing the NRC to order improvements in the plant’s training and procedures. In a tightly run operation, there’s no place for radioactive goldfish jokes.
[goldfish photo by Pixabay via Creative Commons]