From a national and international perspective, Radiation Security has increased in priority to become as important, if not more important as the more traditional model for Radiation Safety.

The growing use of radiological material in a variety of industries and the global threat of terrorism has increased the risk of unwanted radiation exposure. In the USA alone, there are nearly 23,000 licensed users of radiological materials overseeing the security of roughly 2 million sources.  There are some 10 million sources worldwide.

The Importance of Radiation Security

The Importance of Radiation Security

Interview with Keith Reynolds from Westfair Online.

Material from just one hospital, industrial facility or research center could shut a Grand Central Station-sized building for a year or more. Between 50 and 100 curies of Cesium-137 is enough to make a radiological dispersion device (RDD), or dirty bomb.  1,000 curies could fit in a soda can. A small amount of a conventional explosive combined with that material is enough to create a RDD.

A dirty bomb would not likely kill large numbers of people from radiation poisoning. A “Dirty Bomb” (RDD) Will Cause Massive Economic Disruption.  Estimates are for up to $100 Billion to clean up dispersed material* and $1 Trillion economic losses.** A “Radiological Emissions Device,” where a relatively small amount of radiological materials are left in a public facility, is a scenario that could potentially injure or kill hundreds of people.  Panic will surly ensue in both cases. (*National Academies of Science **Business Week  National, September 19, 2005)

Worldwide, the number of lost and stolen radiological materials has been increasing according to the IAEA.  In an August 1, 2007 NY Times Editorial entitled “Seize the Cesium” by PETER D. ZIMMERMAN, JAMES M. ACTON and M. BROOKE ROGERS: “In the United States, commercial users lose about one radioactive source a Day… through theft, accidents or poor paperwork. One of these is recovered perhaps every two days, either because the radioactive materials are voluntarily returned or because of good detective work.”

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism’s Report to US Congress submitted December 3, 2008, quoted Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): “The possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear or other radioactive material remains a grave threat.*” “It is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.”  Dr. ElBaradei was speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on October 28, 2008.

Finally, Radiological security has become a key component of President Obama’s strategy to engage the world from a foreign policy standpoint.  Now only does he advocate for the reduction of nuclear weapons, but within the efforts there is a significant effort to increase security of all other radiological materials.

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