[ RadSafe ] Dirty Bomb Material Crosses Border

Raymond A Hoover ray2hoover at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 31 00:37:23 CST 2006

The purpose behind a dirty bomb is not to kill, it is to terrorize.  For that purpose, any amount of radioactive material will work.  To the public the setting off of a dirty bomb means the area of the explosion is contaminated for a thousand years.  

"Bradt, Clayton (LABOR)" <Clayton.Bradt at labor.state.ny.us> wrote:  According to the NRC, who discussed the report with the GAO before it
was released, the sources were indeed exempt quantities of Cs-137 . In
my opinion the Customs officials acted appropriately by wasting little
time investigating truly trivial amounts of radioactivity. (If GAO
thinks letting this material into the country was so bad, how can they
justify smuggling it into Canada and Mexico in the first place?)

That NIST would have assured GAO that these sources would have been
sufficient to construct two dirty bombs, as is asserted in the report,
is troubling. Either the GAO investigators misunderstood what they
were told by NIST, or the technical competence of NIST personnel has
really taken a nose dive. There is a third possibility of course, the
GAO report, on this point at least, is simply false.

This whole Dirty Bomb Scam has bothered me for years. Anyone who has
thought seriously about RDDs realizes that they make no sense as
weapons. (If they were useful as weapons, you can bet that they would
be in the US arsenal.) It's nearly impossible to kill anybody with one
- at least not within the first decade or so following detonation.
Still, a significant number of people have been determined to convince
the public and Congress that RDDs constitute a mortal threat to national
security. Some slick scaremonger came up with the term "Weapons of Mass
Disruption" to help sell the scam. As if the ability of an adversary to
exploit public ignorance and bureacratic intransigence amounts to
anything other than a self-inflicted wound.

The argument that devastating economic disruption would be caused by a
dirty bomb is based upon the twin assumptions that the American public
is so incorrigibly radiophobic that it will be incapable of listening to
reason when told not to panic about a little contamination, and that the
EPA and other cognizant agencies involved in the clean up will not be
able to cut through the red tape (and absurdly stringent disposal
requirements) as necessary to remediate and restore any affected areas
at reasonable cost. 

If as is claimed, the tiniest amount of radioactivity could be used to
create panic in the streets, then we are truly screwed. We've already
lost the war on terrorism. A broken exit sign - (ten curies of deadly
tritium!) - could shut down Wall Street for months bringing the US
economy to its knees. A nation at war cannot afford to cherish its pet
fears. War planners must learn to concentrate on the real dangers and
ignore the chicken sh*t. 

Clayton J. Bradt, CHP
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Labor
phone: (518) 457 1202
fax: (518) 485 7406
e-mail: clayton.bradt at labor.state.ny.us

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