Unsecured Radioactive Material Discovered
By ROD McGUIRK
Associated Press Writer
August 29, 2005
SYDNEY, Australia -- Australian researchers have found large amounts of radioactive material in two Southeast Asian countries at unsecured sites such as abandoned warehouses, a senior nuclear scientist said Monday.
Australia is involved in an international effort to ensure radioactive material used in medicine and industry is stored securely and systems are set up to track it.
Ron Cameron, chief of operations at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, said researchers from the government-funded group have been scouring the region for material usually used in medicine that could be turned into a so-called dirty bomb.
Cameron declined to identify the countries because the sources remained vulnerable and the materials could be stolen, but said his group was talking to the countries about securing the material.
"These were sources that were no longer in use and nobody seemed to own," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We're now working with them (the countries) to either send them back to the manufacturers or send them to a secure location."
Cameron didn't elaborate on the materials found, but he said occasionally a private company dealing with the materials goes out of business "and they don't look after their source properly."
"So it gets left in a warehouse and eventually some people break into that warehouse." he said.
He said the materials could be used to make dirty bombs, which are detonated by conventional explosives and scatter radioactive material over a wide area.
"It is more likely that terrorists would steal a source rather than just come across one that been abandoned or forgotten," he said.