[ RadSafe ] News Report

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Apr 14 16:32:27 CDT 2009

I won't comment about whether of not it is a critical mass, but Pu-239
would not be a particularly good choice for a dirty bomb.  The specific
activity just isn't that high, so the amount of radiation per kilo isn't
that high.  Of course, given the insane fear of the word "plutonium", it
would enhance the panic effect even if it did not increase the damage
done by the bomb.  

I would be perfectly happy seeing these would-be rad merchants put to
death.  While it may not be possible to deter fanaticism, it is not
particularly hard to deter greed:  You just adjust the risk/benefit
ratio until there aren't any takers.  At the very least you get fewer
and generally stupider people trying stuff like this.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Joel C.
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 2:10 PM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] News Report

3 held over radioactive material
14/04/2009 18:04??-?(SA)??

Kiev - Three Ukrainians have been arrested for seeking to sell
radioactive material that could have been used by terrorists to make a
"dirty bomb", the country's SBU security service said Tuesday.? The
three men were arrested in the western Ternopil region last Thursday
when they tried to sell a container of radioactive material for $10m,
the SBU said in a statement. The men - identified as a member of the
Ternopil regional parliament and two businessmen - believed they were
selling 3 672kg of radioactive plutonium-239, the statement said.? The
material "could have been used for terrorist purposes for the creation
of a dirty bomb", the SBU said, referring to a kind of weapon combining
radioactive material with conventional explosives. 

Authorities were seeking to determine what substance was in the
container, but the SBU said its radioactivity level was 250 times
greater than normal background radiation. The SBU said the substance had
been produced on Russian territory in the Soviet era and could have been
transferred to Ukraine from a neighbouring state, without providing
further details. The men have been charged with illegal handling of
radioactive material and face from eight to 15 years in prison. In
recent years the United States and its allies have expressed concern
that unsecured nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union could fall
into the hands of terrorists. 

- AFP 

I think they mean 3.672 kg of Pu-239.? Critical mass?

Joel I. Cehn, CHP
Oakland, California
joelc at alum.wpi.edu
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