[ RadSafe ] Dirty Bomb with Co-60 in the core

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Jul 3 20:55:53 CDT 2013


In 2004 Kishore Kuchibhotla and Matthew Mckinzie at Henry L. Stimson Centre, Washington wrote an article on the possible impact of a dirty bomb on New Delhi, the Capital of India. I recall that they chose cobalt-60 as the radioisotope. You may recall with the availability appropriate computer codes any one who has a paper and pencil can write impressive and scary articles for public consumption. A few did it for A-bomb impact and when the time came "dirty bomb" became the topic. Since the Stimson centre report excited raw emotions it has got wide media coverage. The editor of The Tribune asked me to write an OP/ED on the topic

You may access it at:

Those who have fertile imagination can think of the infinite possibilities of a dirty bomb with Co-60 at its core! You can choose the most innocuous radioisotope for the dirty bomb, the psychological impact will be the most dreadful.I recall a few years ago a very senior scientist who was involved in extracting the first gram of plutonium from a reprocessing plant in India was very much worried about the radiological impact of this first gram if it is dropped in the municipal water supply.That was a time we were told that plutonium is so toxic that if we utter that word we must wash our mouth with sterile water thrice to avoid any toxic consequence!.When his colleagues with  health physics background told him not to worry as the material will sink to the bottom of the tank and may remain there he did not believe it.I hope our colleagues in the list with health physics background will not rise in rebellion to question the accuracy of the views of the
 health physicists


 From: "Holcomb, Robert D" <dholcomb at austin.utexas.edu>
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu> 
Sent: Thursday, 4 July 2013, 0:42
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Request for Assistance

I don't know when blood irradiation started, might be a source of Cs-137 in one of those units.

Moisture density gages, used in construction, have both Cs-137 and Am/Be-241, for density and water content measurements.  These sources are not that large, say 10mCi Cs-137 and 40 mCi Am-241.  The fact that it is an old air base would mean that there was a specific need for these units, maybe several in storage onsite.  There was a big SNAFU at the current Denver airport during its construction, someone read the wrong side of the moisture curve, messed up the runway, had to re-build it.  I don't know what units were available in 1983, Troxxler is a good mfg to look up.  The beta, gamma, alpha and maybe neutron presence would complicate/confuse the initial responders in their first assessment of the hazard.  That would be the point of using the Am-241, not big enough to be dangerous, but throws a curve at the government's response, alphas may mean U or Pu, much more scary to the public.  Remember Alexander Litvinenko, they didn't think to look for
 alpha emissions when they "c
hecked" him for radiation poisoning. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Otto G. Raabe [mailto:ograabe at ucdavis.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 6:22 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Request for Assistance

>July 2,  2013

My questions is what radionuclides would the Nuclear Medicine Department in a British hospital in 1983 that would be suitable for contaminating a deactivated air base so the USAF cannot deploy a new nuclear missile weapon system there?


Prof. Otto G. Raabe, Ph.D., CHP
Center for Health & the Environment
University of California
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
E-Mail: ograabe at ucdavis.edu
Phone: (530) 752-7754   FAX: (530) 758-6140
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