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MR scanner leaks helium at JFK during transport

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | February 13, 2018
MRI
An MR scanner began leaking a
hazardous gas at JFK airport following
a fall (Credit: Port Authority PBA)
A team of hazmat professionals were called in at John F. Kennedy International Airport this weekend when a damaged MR machine began leaking helium.

The incident occurred around 7 p.m. Saturday, February 10 at building 23, a cargo facility for Asiana Airlines. The machine in question “was being transported, fell, and was punctured” and began “leaking helium refrigerated liquid,” Joe Pentangelo, senior police public information officer at JFK, told HCB News.

When a leak like this occurs, the colorless, odorless gas can cause severe frostbite and burns as well as asphyxiation or dizziness.

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Personnel immediately moved the scanner by forklift outside, following the incident. Port Authority Police Department emergency services and fire crews responded to the scene with the spill cleared at around 9:30 p.m.

Credit: Port Authority PBA

Though MR leakages may be rare, the potential for mishaps in general with MR scanners are common, posing harm to patients, staff members and any other individual within the vicinity. A veterinary hospital in New Jersey, for instance, experienced such an incident in March 2015 when an MR machine exploded, causing a portion of the roof to collapse and putting one man in the hospital in critical condition.

A man in India also died recently in another incident when a scanner pulled him up, along with an oxygen tank he was holding, pinning his hand and trapping him inside where he succumbed to over-inhalation of oxygen.

No injuries were reported in this incident.

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