Walmart's nuclear blunder: Retailer mishandled radioactive exit signs


On Oct. 28, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited Walmart (WMT) for improperly disposing of nuclear material. The items in question were exit signs that contained tritium, a hydrogen isotope, and Walmart had apparently been lax in its removal of 2,979 of them. The massive retailer also neglected to hire someone to keep track of its radioactive signage, in direct contravention of the NRC's requirements.

The NRC could, if it wished, levy a $369,300 fine on Walmart; however, it chose to waive the fee because the chain quickly responded to the citation. Walmart tallied the tritium-based signs at its stores, cleaned up radioactive spills created by its broken signs, and eventually decided to switch from tritium-based signs to more conventional -- and nonradioactive -- signs.