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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 dept.
Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"
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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft

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  • Re:So In Effect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElementOfDestruction (2024308) on Friday December 13, 2013 @06:40PM (#45685053)
    You think they have a lot of seat cushions in Mexican bus terminals?

    Give me a break. Terrorists wouldn't waste their time - they'd use it as a dirty bomb for the media attention, they wouldn't be a pest and try to kill 1 person a day randomly over the next 12 years. Where's the attention in that?
  • Re:So In Effect... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ImprovOmega (744717) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:32PM (#45685441)
    I'm not sure such a terrorist would even live long enough to plant such a device. If it's strong enough to kill people who are sitting next to it, it will at least sicken, if not kill, the person who plants it.
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:50PM (#45685549)

    Not exactly. A dirty bomb wouldn't kill very many people, not directly, anyways (or at least not in the short term, although it'd raise the cancer rate considerably). What it would do is be one of the best weapons of terror ever used. Radiation freaks people out, because they don't understand it, can't see it, and can't really do anything about it. Terrorism don't have to cause damage to be effective, all they have to do is cause terror. The people/government does the rest.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:13PM (#45686411) Homepage

    Yet with a dirty bomb attack the only people likely to benefit are those already in power by gaining more power as a result. As with any weapon of mass destruction the only defence is attack, so once someone attempts to use it against you the only future defence is all out attack. So only useful for false flags, as in the Anthrax attack target at US politicians by, well, US politicians, in order to drive the vote for the Patriot Act or as it is in reality the non-Patriot totalitarian police state Act.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.