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Federal officials found traces of radiation on a United Airlines jet that arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Tokyo Wednesday but determined that the plane’s cargo and passengers were safe, Chicago Breaking Business reports.
Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged Thursday that passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at O’Hare, but he offered no details and said federal officials will be handling the situation.
“Of course the protection of the person coming off the plane is very important in regards to any radiation, especially within their families and anything else,” Daley said at a downtown news conference to discuss his trip to China this week.
Federal officials inspected two United Airlines jets with Geiger counters after they arrived in Chicago from Narita International Airport Wednesday, sources told the Tribune. A person familiar with the search said it was conducted by Customs and Border Patrol agents in the “guise of a random inspection.”
Though officials detected trace elements of radiation on two cargo containers on one of the planes, they later determined that the packages were safe, sources said. Officials also determined the jets were safe after inspecting for radiation.
The radiation plume forming over the Pacific from Japan’s nuclear crisis is a growing concern for U.S. carriers, who want to avoid contaminating aircraft surfaces and exposing passengers and employees to harmful radioactive isotopes.