Border officer overestimated radiation threat from Japan

Officer feared mail in wake of tsunami and meltdowns was radioactive and refused to work without monitoring
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/01/2013

A Canadian border services officer who refused to sort mail coming from Japan in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown was not in any danger of being exposed to harmful levels of radiation, the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal has ruled.

Damian Azeez was a border services officer (BSO) for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at a cargo terminal in Mississauga, Ont. On March 24, 2011, Azeez and a co-worker noticed mail arriving from Japan and been put into the system for them to screen. This was cause for concern for Azeez because of the earthquake and tsunami that had recently hit Japan and damaged a nuclear facility. The nuclear meltdowns that followed caused a spread of radioactive materials into the environment, forcing the area to be evacuated.