Scientists were preparing yesterday to attempt to recover from the ice of Great Slave Lake a "hot" piece of a fallen Soviet statellite that is emitting 10 times more radiation than other fragments.
"It's still in the ice," Lt, Col. Bev Totman said. "It's in the area that is about 15 miles norhteast of Fort Reliance."
He described the piece of the disintergrated Cosmos 954 spy statellite as "flat, metallic, 3 inches wide, 10 inches long and a half-inch thick with a maximum reading of 200 Roentgens per hour" - 10 times stronger than radiation readings from any other fragments found so far.
Wick Courneya of Canada's Atomic Energy Board said that if a person held the fragment for two hours, "he probably would die."
In addition to difficulties posed by recovery of the debris in 40-degree-below-zero temperatures, the highly radioactive material can be moved only after it is placed in a protective lead-lined container.
Courneya said such a container, with four-inch-thick walls and weighing more than a ton, is being prepared and will be taken to the site.
Four fragments of the statellite found earlier are being stored at the Canadian Forces base at Edmondton before transfer to a nuclear research station at Manitoba.
"That will be the destination of the hot pice when they get it out," Totman said.