Radioactive Tape Dispenser (1970s)

Tape dispenser
Tape dispenser bottom

This is a 3M Model C-15 Decor Scotch tape dispenser. It is slightly radioactive due to the thorium-containing monazite sand that was used as ballast. The brown sand, mixed with an epoxy resin, can be seen in the photograph above right where the rubber on the bottom of the dispenser has been pulled back. This particular example came from a 55 gallon drum of tape dispensers that the U.S. Army was about to dispose of as radioactive waste.

My understanding of the story is that a technician at a hospital in Alabama was performing a radiological survey in his office when he discovered that his tape dispenser, I believe it was green, was radioactive. This was sometime in the late 1970s, or perhaps, early 1980s. The dispenser was then sent to Oak Ridge Associated Universities where they identified the cause of the radioactivity.