[ RadSafe ] Industrial x-ray radiography systems

clayton bradt dutchbradt at gmail.com
Sat Apr 7 13:33:09 CDT 2018

Jason Meade said:

"I'm having difficulties figuring out how the "mass destruction" aspect gets


There is no justification it's in the law.  Like so many laws hastily
written in response to 9/11 those defining weapons of mass destruction are
ambiguous, over-broad and not based on science:

18 U.S. Code § 2332a - Use of weapons of mass destruction


(c)Definitions.—For purposes of this section—


(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—




any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a
level dangerous to human life;

What level of radiation is dangerous to human life? Regulatory dogma holds
that no level of radiation is safe, so any level is dangerous, isn't it? Based
on this, a zealous prosecutor could argue  that a smoke detector is a WMD -
just as long as the suspect intended to hurt someone by exposing him to the
59keV gamma from the americium source.

Industrial radiography tubes generate hundreds of rads per minute in the
primary beam at 1 meter. Most of us would agree that's a dangerous level,
but how likely would this even be to kill a person with a few second
exposure? It doesn't meet the threshold of what I think of as a weapon of
mass destruction (which would be something that can kill and maim a lot of
people quickly). But the law says it does and by doing so creates a
conundrum: Either the law is too broad and industrial x-ray tubes should
NOT be considered WMDs, or these tubes ARE in fact WMDs and therefor should
be far more tightly regulated than they now are.

I believe the Health Physics community needs to take this issue by the
horns and work to resolve it one way or the other.

Clayton J. Bradt

​rincipal Radiophysicist (ret.)​

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