[ RadSafe ] Radioactive substance stolen in Japan

Clayton J Bradt cjb01 at health.state.ny.us
Wed Apr 9 15:55:16 CDT 2008

Radioactive substance stolen in Japan: police

1 day ago

TOKYO (AFP) — A radioactive substance that can be used to make a dirty bomb
has been stolen in Japan, police and officials said Tuesday, warning the
public not to go near it.

A sealed metal container holding a small amount of iridium 192 was stolen
on Monday from the office near Tokyo of a company that inspects industrial
products, police said.

Iridium 192 is commonly used in cancer radiation treatment but it is also
cited in scenarios by anti-terrorism investigators as an ingredient for a
makeshift nuclear bomb.

Police said they did not know the motive of whoever stole the substance
from the office of Non-Destructive Inspection Co. Ltd in the Tokyo suburb
of Ichihara.

A security camera at the warehouse caught a person wearing a baseball cap
and work tunic carrying away the 22-kilogramme (48.4-pound) container, the
company and police said.

"We are examining the tape and looking for the person," a police spokesman

The science ministry issued a warning with a picture of the container,
warning the public it was dangerous if opened.

"Anyone who finds it, please don't get near it. Report it to a nearby
police station," the ministry said on its website.

The container held a two-millimetre (0.08-inch) tall cylindrical bit of
iridium 192.

If taken out of the container, the stolen iridium 192 can give off 50
millisieverts of radiation an hour at a distance of one metre (3.3 feet),
the limit for occupational radiation exposure for one year, the company

A normal person would start feeling sick, "just like when you have a
hangover," if standing one metre in front of the opened container for five
hours, said Toshio Kariya, a storage management official at the company.

Radiation could be fatal if a person is exposed to 7,000-8,000
millisieverts for a short period of time.

Non-Destructive Inspection, based in the western city of Osaka, uses
devices such as iridium 192 to check for damages and defects in products
without destroying them.
Clayton J. Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net
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