[ RadSafe ] Fwd: [srp] Mystery box: The curious case of cargocontainer 307703

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Wed Dec 7 12:51:53 CST 2011

An interesting story.  Personally, I think it took them far too long to
resolve the issue.  I realize they needed to be concerned about the
possibility of a bomb inside the container, but taking most of a year to
come up with a plan didn't decrease that risk.  Once the isotope was
determined to be Co60 the solution (breach the container and remove the
contents until you find the source) should have been pretty obvious.
(Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the technical people advocated
that from the beginning, but the "leadership" couldn't be persuaded to
OK anything until delaying any longer was more politically risky than
acting was technically risky).

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Roger Helbig
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 4:15 AM
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Fwd: [srp] Mystery box: The curious case of
cargocontainer 307703

From: Fred <fwp_dawson at hotmail.com>
Date: Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 4:05 AM
Subject: [srp] Mystery box: The curious case of cargo container 307703
To: srp-uk at yahoogroups.com

from Wired magazine

"Enzo Montagna pulled his Fiat into Voltri Terminal Europa, a
sprawling port on the western edge of Genoa, flashed his ID at the
guard and parked in a small lot near the low-slung customs office.

In Italy, all cargo containers carrying scrap metal get checked by
hand for radiation, before they're allowed off the docks. At Voltri,
this job falls to Montagna, a 49-year-old independent consultant
certified by the Italian government. By the time he arrived,
longshoremen had gathered eleven six-metre-long, 2.5-metre-wide
containers, relying on manifests to determine which ones needed to be
scanned. The boxes were lined up near the terminal's entrance.

Montagna grabbed his radiation monitor -- a Ludlum Model 3 about the
size of a toaster. He plugged in a sensor wand and set the device down
18 metres away from the containers. The Model 3 emits a beep every
time it detects a radioactive particle; Montagna turned it on, and the
meter's needle swung past the maximum reading of 500,000 counts per
minute. Instead of its usual staccato chirps, the machine was whining
continuously and frantically. That didn't worry Montagna; the port's
humid air sometimes corroded the connections. He turned the detector
off, replaced the cable between the wand and the box with a spare, and
turned the device back on. It started wailing again. Montagna was
being bathed in radiation.

One of the containers in front of him held a lethal secret, but was
that secret merely a slow-motion radioactive industrial accident, or a
bomb -- one that could destroy the 24 kilometre waterfront? Montagna
ran to his car to get a less sensitive detector. He didn't think about
protection; at those levels, he would have needed lead armour 12cm
thick to stand within a metre of the source for long."

continues at

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