[ RadSafe ] Outcry as border guards seize British 'dirty bomb'lorry heading for Iran

Jim Hardeman Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us
Mon Jul 24 20:15:32 CDT 2006

Ed --
You're right on target my friend. I think the answer to question 1. is
c), given that the aim of a "terrorist" is to instill terror (and
killing, in my opinion, is just a means to that end). As you indicated,
a) and b) are pretty difficult to achieve.  There's another choice,
however ... d) create significant economic hardship ... which is kind of
a sub-set of answer c).
As for the answer to question 2, I doubt that any area would be a
"perpetual wasteland", depending on how much money you wanted to spend
to clean it up, and what "acceptable levels" you choose. But, if the
public wants their property to be "cesium-free" or "americium-free",
we're screwed. (Don't laugh ... the folks in Goiania, Brazil wanted
their property "cesium-free" after the incident there).
[Story begins here]
Several years back, my colleague and I accompanied FBI on a raid
involving a criminal enterprise using radioactive material (in this
case, Sr-90) to mark gambling devices (don't ask me how it worked ... I
still to this day don't know). My friends in Florida had already run
across this and had one house crapped up ... another state too ... I
can't remember which one right now. Anyway, we recovered an intact
package (i.e. not leaking) and didn't have contamination issues to deal
with. By the time I returned to my office, a friend of mine w/ our local
electronic media had called to inquire about the incident. After
confirming w/ FBI that it was OK to talk to him, I returned his call ...
and during the course of the call, he asked "could this material be used
in a dirty bomb"? I answered him that you could wrap an old-style (i.e.
thorium-bearing) Coleman lantern mantle around a firecracker and call it
a "dirty bomb" if you like ... it would meet the definition ... but it
wouldn't be terribly effective ... and similarly, the material we
recovered (a few uCi of Sr-90) wouldn't be terribly effective either.
[End story]
My $0.02 worth for the day ...
Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us

>>> "Ed Hiserodt" <hise at sbcglobal.net> 7/24/2006 17:57 >>>
The questions I hope someone might help me with are:

1.  What do the dirty bomb makers intend to do?
(a)  Kill a bunch of people by exposing them to 4-7 Sv?
(b)  Significantly raise the 20-year cancer rate for the victims?
(c)  Take advantage of the fact them 99% of the population has no
     of what level of radiation is dangerous level and will panic?

If (a) or (b), I'd think it would take several decades' of the total
production of soil testers to have an effect.  If (c), they could get
with one tester and one "environmentally conscious" New York Times

2.  How big an area do they intend to victimize?  
a.  Manhattan Island?
b.  Central Park?
c.  The Men's Room at Wendy's?

Perhaps someone could calculate the number of devices with "easily
radioactive material" it would take for making a perpetual wasteland
various areas.

Ed Hiserodt

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