Tags: gao | dirty | bomb | threat

GAO Warns of 'Dirty Bomb' Threat

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2008 07:59 PM

The Government Accountability Office has raised concerns over so-called “dirty bombs,” saying the U.S. is taking too long to secure radioactive materials that could get into terrorists’ hands.

A GAO report states: “Radioactive sealed sources, which are commonly used throughout the world for a variety of purposes, are radioactive materials sealed in a capsule or permanently bonded in a solid form. These sealed sources are used in medicine and in the oil and gas, electric power, construction, and food industries.

“For example, devices containing radioactive sealed sources are used to diagnose and treat millions of patients each year, sterilize items such as medical instruments and food, and detect flaws in the metal welds in pipelines. Currently, about 2 million sealed sources are licensed for use in the United States.

“Since terrorists attacked the United States in 2001, concerns have grown that they could obtain and use sealed sources to build a “dirty bomb” — a type of radiological dispersal device (RDD) that uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material.”

Experts believe a dirty bomb attack would be confined to a small area, but could have a significant psychological effect and serious economic consequences due to cleanup problems, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The GAO found that new requirements aimed at securing radioactive materials are more than three years behind schedule.

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