Lax US security and dirty bombs

This Washington Post article shows how easy it is to make a dirty bomb. But it is even easier than what the article cites. Using Americium-241 collected from smoke detectors, an American teenager was able to achieve a nuclear criticality — in effect, make a miniature nuclear reactor — in his parents’ basement. For the whole scary story, see Ken Silverstein’s book “The Radioactive Boy Scout”. You can order it from Amazon.

Sting Reveals Security Gap at Nuclear Agency

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/11/AR2007071101895_pf.html

By Kathleen Day
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 12, 2007; A01

Undercover congressional investigators posing as West Virginia businessmen obtained a license with almost no scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that enabled them to buy enough radioactive material from U.S. suppliers to build a “dirty bomb,” a new government report says.

The investigators obtained the license within 28 days from officials at the NRC, the federal agency that in addition to regulating nuclear power plants oversees radioactive materials used in health care and industry, the report by the Government Accountability Office says. NRC officials approved the request with a minimal background check that included no face-to-face interview or visit to the purported company to ensure it existed and complied with safety rules, the report says.

Using a post-office box at Mail Boxes Etc., a telephone and a fax machine, the undercover investigators from the GAO obtained the license “without ever leaving their desks,” the report says.

[…]
Read full article here.

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