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Radioactive minerals at airports
  
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Benj




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PostPosted: Oct 28, 2019 13:57    Post subject: Radioactive minerals at airports  

Hello Jordi and friends !
I'm going to Tucson in February 2020. I have a question about the transportation of radioactive minerals at airports, especially U.S. airports. I know that minerals are accepted in the cabin (carry-on bags) by the agents of the TSA and CBP. However, what about radioactive minerals? This year, I brought a tiny autunite from the Daybreak Mine back to France, and everything went well at the Tucson airport security. Have you ever had problems at US airports with radioactive minerals? I would like to hear your opinions and experiences on this question.
(I asked this question in other mineralogy groups)

Regards,

Benjamin.



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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Oct 28, 2019 18:52    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

The potential problem you face is that the final decision about what is allowed on an airplane is up to the security agents who inspect your carry-on bags. For many years I have traveled with a small "Leatherman" type multi-tool in my pocket without problem. Last year on one trip I was not allowed to carry it on because it has a small 4 cm blade. The fact that I had been allowed to carry it on many prior occasions did not matter.

I do not generally collect radioactive minerals but a few years ago a friend of mine was detained for about 5 hours at a US airport because he was carrying several cuprosklowskite specimens back from the Munich show. I assume that the concentration was sufficient to set off some sort of radiation detector. As a general rule, I would avoid trying to travel through any major US airport with anything more than very small samples of radioactive minerals, least you run into the same sort of problem.

As to non-radioactive specimens, I have only had trouble with things larger than around 10-12 cm, so I generally try to carry on only smaller specimens. Considering the discretion that security agents have to decide what may be a dangerous weapon, I generally try to play it safe.
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Kevin Schofield




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PostPosted: Oct 29, 2019 09:04    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

As a general piece of advice, I would simply say "don't do it". As Jesse says, the rules as applied are largely at the discretion of the individual, and should you happen to get one of our public servants who revels in wearing a uniform and being a stickler, life could get difficult.
When I have been carrying mineral specimens that are large or delicate, one method I have used to get a more "considered" search is to request a Private Screening. You will be taken into a private area and searched individually. I don't know to what extent that protocol looks for radiation. Again though, if you are "caught", especially in these times of heightened political tension, the consequences could be unpleasant as TSA/Homeland Security/ICE do have very wide-ranging powers of detention...

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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Oct 29, 2019 10:01    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

Once some years ago I traveled from Stockholm to Denver with two suitcases - one with clothes etc., the other with minerals all wrapped carefully in paper, plastic, etc. They x-rayed the bags and pulled me into a room.....and asked me what the **** was in that bag?! I said crystals and mineral specimens. The man relaxed [a little] as he had seen some pointed objects [crystals]....but demanded I open each and EVERY wrapped object. It took over an hour and I missed my flight.....but was allowed to proceed on the next flight....... Nothing was radioactive on that mission. But another time, after returning from a mineral hunt in Evje, Norway, I had as 'carryon' a large plastic bag. In the bag was a BIG, ugly, but delightful [to me] slightly radioactive mineral - about the size of a soccer/football. The woman sitting next to me asked what I kept looking at in the bag between my feet and I stupidly told her it was a rare radioactive mineral I collected. She went into a panic and called the steward who called the captain and I had a lot of explaining to do to assure them it was likely less radiation than they were receiving from being at the altitude of the plane.....but I was treated very badly on the flight from then on! Just sayin...... Oh, I miss the good old days when flying was easy and without worry you'll be arrested for having an object from one's collection on board....
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Oct 29, 2019 10:15    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

I will first make a minor correction to your original posting. It is the Daybreak Mine, Mt Spokane (sometimes referred to as the adjacent Mt Kit Carson) Spokane County, Washington.


While I agree with the previous responders, the TSA agents at the Tucson airport are well aware of mineral collectors traveling with mineral specimens, sometimes small harmlessly radioactive specimens, around the time of the February show. From what I am told, usually there is no problem at the Tucson airport.

Be upfront about the specimen, label it fully, and pack the specimen in such a way so it can readily be unpacked, examined if required, and then quickly be repacked,
Once passed thru TSA security it should pass muster at other airports, should there be multiple flights. That is my understanding. BOB
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Fiebre Verde




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PostPosted: Oct 29, 2019 10:24    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

... or you do it a la Greta Thunberg. Requires time and funding.
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Benj




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PostPosted: Oct 30, 2019 05:43    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

Hello ! :-)

The TSA answered the question that I asked them 2 days ago:

"Thank you for contacting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center.
After reviewing your inquiry, the item in question is generally permitted in carry-on or checked baggage.
TSA Officers have the discretion to prohibit any item through the screening checkpoint or onboard an aircraft if they believe it poses a security threat. This discretion applies even if the item is not on the prohibited items list. The permitted and prohibited items lists are not intended to be all-inclusive. "

Do not meet a bad mood agent looool !!
So, their answer is good, I am happy^^
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Oct 30, 2019 12:47    Post subject: Re: Radioactive minerals at airports  

You shouldn‘t have any trouble at all with micromounts or small thumbnails. Bigger radioactive specimens are legal too but, like you said, can still cause trouble if the agent had a fight with his wife at breakfast that day. And arguing about it will not help your case. Bigger rocks, once you get to a size that could hurt someone‘s skull or damage airplane equipment, will usually not be allowed in carry-on baggage whether radioactive or not.
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