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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, Informative)

    by mjwalshe (1680392) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:05PM (#45685233)
    Its not an immediate lethal dose you die in several days in a gruesome way - Stargate had an episode where one of Dr Jackson had this happen to him "Meridian" is the episode its a fairly realistic depiction of death by massive radiation exposure.
  • Re:So In Effect... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kilo Kilo (2837521) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:17PM (#45686665)
    Radiation "suits" aren't really a thing. There are some out there, but the only one's I've seen are similar to EOD suits. You're probably thinking of Level A HazMat suits which are chemical protective suits. People toss around NBC or CBRNE, but not all the words really go together, it's more about grouping together a bunch of very rare - yet very dangerous - threats.

    Chemical and Biological can be paired up pretty easily because a lot of the protective equipment can be used for either.

    Radioactive came to be separated from Nuclear because dirty bomb became such a buzzword. The actual fatalities from a dirty bomb would be relatively low, but the public's general fear of anything radioactive makes it a good choice for terrorists (using the strictest definition of terrorist).

    Nuclear now specifically refers to a nuclear detonation and it shares some effects with Explosives except it has the added "benefits" of fallout.

    Explosives is nothing new, but it gets lumped in with the rest because it's not an average threat for first responders.
  • Re:So In Effect... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gagol (583737) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:25PM (#45686689)
    It protects from radiation POISONING, not radiation exposure. Unless you are willing to wear a couple feet thick concrete vest, you will be exposed to harmful radiation. The best method to mitigate it, is to limit exposure (see how workers of Chernobyl cleaned the roof of the reactor, good read).
  • Re:So In Effect... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:56PM (#45686803)

    Correct. First known instance of a criticality accident happened at Los Alamos in 1945. Exposure was 510 rem plus additional exposure immediately after. He was pretty sick within hours, but it took him 25 days to die. A similar accident with the same material a year later killed the scientist in 9-days.

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