Sounds exciting, eh? And it would have been a very, very, very big deal anywhere but where it happened. But it occurred at the only beamline where we tolerate its occurrance. And we only tolerate it because it can’t be avoided. Because these researchers use neutrons to study pressurized materials.
How pressurized? That particular sample was at 18Gpa: 18 gigaPascals, about 180,000 Earth atmospheres. That’s “only” a twentieth of the pressure at Earth’s core, but it’s 160x the pressure at the bottom of the deepest ocean point.
So it’s “unexpected” in the same way you “unexpectedly” change a flat tire. You can’t worry about having to do it because the only way to never have one is not to drive. Instead you minimize the likelihood of the event, then just deal with it when it happens.
No one got contaminated, no one got a detectable exposure. Heck, we’ll probably end up without even radioactive waste. The half-life of the major isotope is about 2.7 days. The activity is now all bagged up, so just by staring at it for a month we can “decon by procrastination”.
And remember, whenever I share these radiological tales…I used to be a farmhand.
Now, that’s dangerous!