Monday, July 16, 2018

Missing Plutonium

Plutonium is in the news.

Plutonium is rarely found on earth. It is chemically toxic and its radiation decay includes gamma radiation, alpha particles and beta particles.

One atom of plutonium internalized has the potential to kill you over time as its alpha particle decay shreds DNA.

Of course, plutonium is prized for precisely these decay elements.  Its killing radioactivity adds to the allure of its explosive force.

One would therefore think that countries would be more mindful of their plutonium.

The US has failed in this regard. Although the Nuclear Regulatory Committee monitors nuclear fuel consumed by utilities, the Department of Defense has not kept careful records, nor have adequate controls been established to prevent disappearance of dangerous radioactive materials.

The most recent episode occurred in March of this year when staffers from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory drove to Texas to pick up some sort of radioactive material, the nature of which is not clear in the article.

In order to calibrate their radiation detectors (needed to ensure they picked up the "correct" material), the  “specialists” from Idaho brought with them small samples of radioactive materials , including a “plastic-covered disk of plutonium” and one of cesium!!!
Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith (2018, July 16). Plutonium is missing, but the government says nothing. The Center for Public Integrity.
To ensure they got the right items, the specialists from Idaho brought radiation detectors and small samples of dangerous materials to calibrate them: specifically, a plastic-covered disk of plutonium, a material that can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, and another of cesium, a highly radioactive isotope that could potentially be used in a so-called “dirty” radioactive bomb.
The plutonium and cesium were left in their vehicle overnight in a Marriott Hotel parking lot. The vehicle was broken into and the radioactive materials stolen.

Uh huh.

Apparently this is not a new problem, as the Center for Public Integrity explains:
For nearly 40 years, “DOE officials and their predecessors … did not have an effective capability within their accounting systems to know if significant quantities of” bomb-grade uranium were being diverted to illicit use, according to Charles Ferguson, a physicist who is now director of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board at the National Academies of Sciences.

The Government Accountability Office declared in Sept. 2015 that the department also had never conducted an authoritative inventory of the location and quantity of plutonium loaned by the United States to other nations, and that eleven foreign sites with U.S.-made bomb-grade uranium had not been visited by U.S. inspectors in the previous 20 years. Many sites inspected before 2010 lacked rigorous security systems, the GAO warned.
I recommend reading the full article linked above.

The stupidity involved in this case is beyond belief.

Humans should not play with technologies they are too stupid to control.


  1. Every few months we hear of another plutonium contamination of a worker at Hanford. Cesium 137 is very comparable to cobalt 60 . Both very strong gamma emmiters.

    I saw an old 1958 Japanese experiment Video, where a slug of cobalt 60, that was 2 inches high , and 2 an inch or so across, was put in a sealed room, in a shielded compartment.

    Two bird, were put in the 5 by 5 room, in a cage. The compartment was opened under the cage, to unshield the cobalt 60.

    It Killed the birds in a matter of minutes.

    Many divers have used cesium 137 radiographic boxes, to gamma ray analyze ship hulls, underwater for cracks.

    More than a few times the radiographic boxes lead shielding has failed UNERWATER and fried divers to death.

    People are routinely overexposed to gamma knives all over the world. Then there are the times a cattail or gammabox with 4 to 20 grams of cobalt 60, iridium 191, strontium 90, cesium 137 falls into unsespecting public hands. It maimsa and kills hundreds or even thousands with a f3w grams..

    I cannot tell you how many rdiotherapy technicians, cancerpations, accident victims are permanently sterile! From what they thought were casual exposures or worse. Probaly may had heritable damage , if they could have kids.

    They do not give a shit. The epa the nrc, the iaea, the corporations. People are expendible.

    The Japanese are still allowed to process plutonium, after fukushima.

    Americium is almost as strong an alpha emiiter as plutonium. Yet instead of disposing it in deep caskes , this minutely deadly, high-level radioactive waste product , is sold in a radioactive pellet the size of a bb , in smoke detectors.

    That is how much the psychopathic-psychotic evil monkey nucleoapes - nuclearists from the mic, from government , nuclear , of corporate america , the scienceasses, nuclear physicists, health physicists, do not give a shit about us.

    I will leave this with busbys dog lung cancer story.

    Injecting dogs with plutonium – to prove what?

    Some years ago I was up against one of these hormesis geezers, a certain Dr Otto Raabe, in a court case in America. He was the expert for the defence. Raabe was in charge of the Beagle dog studies in New Mexico.

    They injected these poor creatures with Plutonium, Radium or Strontium-90 and watched them develop bone cancer and leukemia. The doses were enormous, the number of dogs was small (cost). The whole place was contaminated with Plutonium, the particles hanging in the air like fairy dust. The burial site for the dogs is so radioactive it is fenced off as a US superfund site for decontamination.

    1. Raabe’s thing was that he had mathematically converted beagle dogs into humans: you should just see his amazing three dimensional graphs (these guys love all that stuff). Well you can probably find them somewhere on the internet.

      The best thing was that in one of his papers he discussed how difficult it was to do these beagle studies. He wrote that 12 (yes 12) of his control dogs (no injections of Plutonium) had unfortunately died of lung cancer and had to be removed from the analysis. What!!?

      I checked out the rates of lung cancer in dogs (you can find everything on the web) and that was the end of Raabe. Low dose, you see. Fairy dust.

      Anyway, as far as nuclear sites are concerned, none of this is really relevant, except as an excuse to increase the limits of exposure. This is because the cancers near the nuclear sites are caused by internal exposures, to Plutonium, Uranium, Tritium, Strontium-90, Caesium-137, Iodine-131, Carbon-14, particles and huge amounts of radioactive noble gases Krypton-85 and Argon-41. There are more nasty isotopes but that will do.

      And internal exposures can deliver doses to the cell and to the DNA which are far above the small doses that the hormesis people are citing. They are talking about low external doses around external natural background, up to 10 mSv.

      The alpha particle track in a cell delivers about 400mSv. The alpha decay of a Uranium atom bound to DNA delivers several thousand mSv to the DNA, and also amplifies natural background though secondary photoelectron effects. Different game altogether.

      So whats the conclusion? It is this: there is no threshold from zero dose. There is an apparent reduction in the response over some variable intermediate low dose region (the right hand side of the A region peak in Fig 1) which varies depending on the cell type.

      Since we don’t know what this is, and anyway it varies, we cannot allow for the effect in legislation. And of course, we don’t know what other downsides there are to induced repair: one clear likelihood is that you die earlier.

      You only get a limited number of replications before you run out of the ability to replace cells. If you use them up with induced repair systems that’s the end of the road. Otherwise why haven’t we all got these repair systems zinging and spinning at maximum rpm all the time? We all die. And that is why.

    2. Thank you for the interesting comment.

  2. Somethings are not well absorbed in the gut like metals. They are very well absorbed in the lungs though. If i were in japan, i would wear a mask. If i were by hanford or a nuke dump, i would too. We live in a cattle culture where, we allow our herders to genocide us in the most brutal, prolonged-painful and sadistic ways. We thank them for it