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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 dept.

Crime 174

Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"

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Mandatory Beta (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45684983)

Mother of God, this "beta" is awful.

Re:Mandatory Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685181)

Just erase your cookies.
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Just get used to it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685369)

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Beta sucks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685819)

I used to think I spent to much time on Slashdot, and that maybe I should cut back.
This "beta" could be just what I need to help me quit Slashdot.

So the Dirty Bomb was more Media FUD (-1, Flamebait)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 8 months ago | (#45684999)

Thanks Slashdot for joining in on the fun. News for nerds, fictional stuff that matters from a fictional perspective.

Re:So the Dirty Bomb was more Media FUD (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 8 months ago | (#45685549)

Not exactly. A dirty bomb wouldn't kill very many people, not directly, anyways (or at least not in the short term, although it'd raise the cancer rate considerably). What it would do is be one of the best weapons of terror ever used. Radiation freaks people out, because they don't understand it, can't see it, and can't really do anything about it. Terrorism don't have to cause damage to be effective, all they have to do is cause terror. The people/government does the rest.

Re:So the Dirty Bomb was more Media FUD (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 8 months ago | (#45686081)

That relies on a model of people as scared animals instead of what often seems to happen in real disasters and in wartime. We've also been influenced by dozens of TV shows where radiation is seen as something safe for X minutes then a death sentence beyond, even if reality is very different to that. I don't think people would freak out as much as they would with the threat of nerve gas, chlorine etc etc or a normal bomb.

Re:So the Dirty Bomb was more Media FUD (0)

gagol (583737) | about 8 months ago | (#45686537)

In a dirty bomb, I am much more afraid of the radioactive dust (plutoium is SO bad for you... Cobalt-60 IDK) thanb radioactivity by itself. I can always go to my basement survival room for a couple day and be rescued, but it lacks fine particle filtering.

Re:So the Dirty Bomb was more Media FUD (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 months ago | (#45686411)

Yet with a dirty bomb attack the only people likely to benefit are those already in power by gaining more power as a result. As with any weapon of mass destruction the only defence is attack, so once someone attempts to use it against you the only future defence is all out attack. So only useful for false flags, as in the Anthrax attack target at US politicians by, well, US politicians, in order to drive the vote for the Patriot Act or as it is in reality the non-Patriot totalitarian police state Act.

They Dont Call It Goblin Metal for Nothing. (4, Interesting)

auric_dude (610172) | about 8 months ago | (#45685017)

An account of what happened and what could have happened via Steve Weintz https://medium.com/war-is-boring/26b40dd869fb [medium.com]

Re:They Dont Call It Goblin Metal for Nothing. (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 8 months ago | (#45685947)

I ain't scared of no dirty bomb, my house is sealed up with saran wrap and duct tape. The government warned me to do it years ago and I still haven't died, so it obviously works.

Re: They Dont Call It Goblin Metal for Nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686637)

If you can breath, you didn't seal well enough.

Re:They Dont Call It Goblin Metal for Nothing. (2)

Empiric (675968) | about 8 months ago | (#45686173)

Er, kobold metal, per the original etymology, as one might guess from the word.

We don't want to unfairly give goblins a worse name than they already have, now...

Ohhhh my gawddd !!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685027)

The beaner's have got a dirty bomb, Next up the war on Mexico!!
Why are you Americans such pussies and afraid all the time?

Re:Ohhhh my gawddd !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685141)

We ain't afraid of no beaners. When we say "Jump!", President Beaner says "How high, señor?".

There's a reason they call them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685313)

...Mexican Jumping Beans

So In Effect... (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#45685029)

Had a terrorist put this under a seat cushion in a bus terminal, they could kill hundreds, perhaps thousands before it would eventually be tracked down.

Damn dirty bombs, sneak attacks are more deadly.

Re:So In Effect... (5, Insightful)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 8 months ago | (#45685053)

You think they have a lot of seat cushions in Mexican bus terminals?

Give me a break. Terrorists wouldn't waste their time - they'd use it as a dirty bomb for the media attention, they wouldn't be a pest and try to kill 1 person a day randomly over the next 12 years. Where's the attention in that?

Re:So In Effect... (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#45685179)

Cut open the hand holds on a NYC subway and put it in there, then seal it back up. 1 a day would be hundreds. They'd track it down to a specific car within a day or two, and you could probably get it out that night. So kill hundreds in a subway, shutting down the system for a while, then take it back and do your dirty bomb the next day.

Re:So In Effect... (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45685275)

Dear Sir:

Please sit down right where you are. Yes, that's right.
Hands where we can see you.

We shall be with you in a moment.

Thank you for your cooperation.

The Department of Homeland Security
Internet Crazy Person Surveillance Group

Re:So In Effect... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45685297)

Mass transit does seem the most vulnerable, and NYC subways seem the most dangerous.

The cars themselves and/or the tracks/tunnels they ride on/in might actually have some sort of detection for radiation. A quick Google search says the NYPD patrols with handheld radiation detectors, so it's now a game of finding the most trafficked location that people linger for ~30 seconds in that doesn't have someone checking for radiation regularly. [That also probably rules out a lot of doctor and dentist offices, as well as hospitals and municipal buildings in huge metro areas where at least some police are probably armed with radiation gear.]

A Vegas taxi servicing the strip, or the shuttle bus between Harrah's and The Rio...

Re:So In Effect... (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 8 months ago | (#45686293)

A Vegas taxi servicing the strip, or the shuttle bus between Harrah's and The Rio...

You don't want to kill the driver before he picks up very many people do you?

Re:So In Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685347)

How long would it take someone in NYC to notice a radiological source that strong? They're looking for these regularly, I bet, and this one would shine like a search light.

Re:So In Effect... (4, Insightful)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 8 months ago | (#45685441)

I'm not sure such a terrorist would even live long enough to plant such a device. If it's strong enough to kill people who are sitting next to it, it will at least sicken, if not kill, the person who plants it.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685525)

I'm not sure such a terrorist would even live long enough to plant such a device. If it's strong enough to kill people who are sitting next to it, it will at least sicken, if not kill, the person who plants it.

It would undoubtedly be a suicide act. Nevertheless, the device could easily be designed to kill within weeks.

For it to kill within minutes, it would have to quite deadly indeed, and it's unlikely something so deadly would be used in this kind of scenario.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 8 months ago | (#45685629)

Cut open the hand holds on a NYC subway and put it in there, then seal it back up. 1 a day would be hundreds. They'd track it down to a specific car within a day or two, and you could probably get it out that night. So kill hundreds in a subway, shutting down the system for a while, then take it back and do your dirty bomb the next day.

Nice try Jose... This is a dangerous chunk of Co.

By removing the shielding to make it dangerous to others you start
a 30 second clock on yourself. I cannot believe anyone could
get from a parking lot and hand carry the plug to a bench,
hand hold or whatever.

Some transport options come to mind but I would not want to play
with them.

Also for the most part this is a solid block of cobalt and not easy to
disperse. Any bits are easy to detect at the end of a 10 foot pole
and the small bits could be picked up with a lot of remote and safe tricks.

This is not even a good suicide device. People will see
you die in pain and in near isolation.

No photo opportunities, no flames, no smoke, dispersed ambulance
trips to an ER... Nothing to gain fame and followers... just enemies.

Scary for sure but manageable yes in that I think other things are worse.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#45685809)

So a lead-lined NBC suit wouldn't offer any protection? Piles of dead people, killed invisibly with no identifiable cause? That'd cause lots of terror.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685939)

Yes, no one will notice the guy in the NBC bunny suit walking into the bus station with a lead lined container held at the end of a 10ft pole. No sir.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#45686037)

So you concede the damage and results would be as I describe, and now it's a discussion of minor execution details?

Re:So In Effect... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#45686131)

no, NBC suits are not lead lined, nor could you line one with enough lead to be effective and still allow movement. NBC suits only protect against direct contact and ingesting of "hot particles", the word "particle" in this case meaning dirt, dust, metal flakes, etc.

the cause of death and maimings of those in the vicinity would be very obvious

Re:So In Effect... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#45686259)

So a radiation suit doesn't protect against radiation? Seems like a silly name, and waste of money.

Re:So In Effect... (3, Informative)

Kilo Kilo (2837521) | about 8 months ago | (#45686665)

Radiation "suits" aren't really a thing. There are some out there, but the only one's I've seen are similar to EOD suits. You're probably thinking of Level A HazMat suits which are chemical protective suits. People toss around NBC or CBRNE, but not all the words really go together, it's more about grouping together a bunch of very rare - yet very dangerous - threats.

Chemical and Biological can be paired up pretty easily because a lot of the protective equipment can be used for either.

Radioactive came to be separated from Nuclear because dirty bomb became such a buzzword. The actual fatalities from a dirty bomb would be relatively low, but the public's general fear of anything radioactive makes it a good choice for terrorists (using the strictest definition of terrorist).

Nuclear now specifically refers to a nuclear detonation and it shares some effects with Explosives except it has the added "benefits" of fallout.

Explosives is nothing new, but it gets lumped in with the rest because it's not an average threat for first responders.

Re:So In Effect... (4, Informative)

gagol (583737) | about 8 months ago | (#45686689)

It protects from radiation POISONING, not radiation exposure. Unless you are willing to wear a couple feet thick concrete vest, you will be exposed to harmful radiation. The best method to mitigate it, is to limit exposure (see how workers of Chernobyl cleaned the roof of the reactor, good read).

Re:So In Effect... (0)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 8 months ago | (#45686105)

You would be more of a two minute clock. 1000 Rems is around what it takes to kill you dead. Mounting it in the front of a cars bumper with shielding behind it might work or even pointing out the side of a car. Drive around NYC in traffic and get pedestrians as you go.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 8 months ago | (#45686113)

By removing the shielding to make it dangerous to others you start
a 30 second clock on yourself.

A 30-second clock to receiving the LD50, not a 30-second clock to actual death. Radiation poisoning doesn't kill immediately, and even the symptoms (burns, etc.) don't show up that quickly. It would likely take several dozen hours before an individual actually died from such exposure, plenty of time to get off the train and go find a quick way to die.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 8 months ago | (#45685731)

Using radioactive weapons is probably more lethal, but it won't shock people as much as a suicide-bombing, with all the cameras around here.

Terrorists would prefer to kill people in a cheaper and flashier way.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#45685791)

A dirty bomb would be scary, but killing people invisibly anywhere people are would also cause terror. Prove your bus seat or subway car isn't killing you. It'd destroy the economy to scare people away from going outside.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 8 months ago | (#45686447)

Or, it would just boost sales of equipment for detecting radiation.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 8 months ago | (#45686817)

And that kids is how the great banana boycott of 2014 started.

Re:So In Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686147)

I'm sure the giant lead suits you'd have to wear wouldn't be a giveaway to the bus terminal security.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45686495)

But how would you work it and live long enough to plant the stuff?

Re:So In Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686635)

The subway has sensors to detect radiation.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

b0r0din (304712) | about 8 months ago | (#45686853)

This probably couldn't even make it into NYC. There was a 60 minutes episode about this. NYC is basically on radiation lockdown. They do sweeps. I'm not saying it's impossible because Manhattan is a big city, but...perhaps unlikely.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45685195)

Or release vague information about their dirty bomb, to create panic. Fortunately, the source would be easy to find if it was used in this way.

Re:So In Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685237)

Consider how many people sit on a single seat on a subway (or stand within a foot or two of it) during the course of a day.

This would be a *lot* more than one a day.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 8 months ago | (#45685661)

To add to that, while they would be able to scare the bejeebus out of a lot of people with the ensuing media storm, they could do the same thing without bothering with radioactive material extremely easy. Make a specific threat, even one that's absurd, and send some idiot with instructions to do it, and you'll terrify the sheep people for months. "OMG! Al qaeda is trying to bomb the US using the moon by hijacking the space shuttle!!!"

Re:So In Effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685169)

Pff a little radiation never hurt anyone except for Marie Curie and that guy on star trek.

- El Senior Super Mutanto

Re:So In Effect... (1)

occasional_dabbler (1735162) | about 8 months ago | (#45685227)

And there are plenty around still who'd take a little radiation poisoning for TWO Nobels

Re:So In Effect... (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#45685185)

Had a terrorist put this under a seat cushion in a bus terminal, they could kill hundreds, perhaps thousands before it would eventually be tracked down.

The article says that you would get a lethal dose in 30 seconds. That means one person sitting on that seat cushion would die even on a short bus ride. That _might_ get someone's attention. Then you would call paramedics who would get ill. Perhaps the bus would drive again, with a second person dying. At that point someone _would_ notice.

Re:So In Effect... (4, Informative)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 8 months ago | (#45685233)

Its not an immediate lethal dose you die in several days in a gruesome way - Stargate had an episode where one of Dr Jackson had this happen to him "Meridian" is the episode its a fairly realistic depiction of death by massive radiation exposure.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45685269)

Not necessarily. A lethal dose of radiation doesn't kill immediately. Depending on how it was placed, you might have people ride the bus, go home, then think they must have food poisoning. A few days later, they would die. Local; restaurants would be in for a bad time until all were shut down and people kept dying.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

dwywit (1109409) | about 8 months ago | (#45685957)

That just might instigate a new protocol for dealing with people who die from "food poisoning" - check 'em for radiation before the autopsy.

Although IIRC some of the symptoms from a lethal dose of radiation have distinct characteristics and aren't confused with other causes.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45686759)

You assume there will actually be an autopsy. And that the coroner (not always an M.E.)would recognize radiation poisoning given that it's in the 'this never happens' category. There would be no residual radiation from gamma poisoning.

It would probably come out eventually, but I'm betting not before a few cultures come back negative at least.

Re:So In Effect... (5, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | about 8 months ago | (#45686803)

Correct. First known instance of a criticality accident happened at Los Alamos in 1945. Exposure was 510 rem plus additional exposure immediately after. He was pretty sick within hours, but it took him 25 days to die. A similar accident with the same material a year later killed the scientist in 9-days.

Re:So In Effect... (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45685191)

There's plenty of more dangerous public locations, and a lot of semi-private ones would be worse.

A doctor's office, or chair at the DMV would might get a dozen people a day. Ditto for plenty of public service waiting rooms. The plane that services US Airways flight 624 to Vegas probably goes back and forth 5-6 times a day, so that might get a dozen people -- but you'd have to get the '60 through security. The Disneyland Monorail probably gets someone every 20 minutes for 14 hours a day, but might be all plastic. I'm sure there's *some* Disneyland/6 Flags/Magic Mountain ride that you could leave the '60 on if you had the right container that'd do the same as the monorail.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#45685231)

There's plenty of more dangerous public locations, and a lot of semi-private ones would be worse.

A doctor's office, or chair at the DMV would might get a dozen people a day. Ditto for plenty of public service waiting rooms. The plane that services US Airways flight 624 to Vegas probably goes back and forth 5-6 times a day, so that might get a dozen people -- but you'd have to get the '60 through security. The Disneyland Monorail probably gets someone every 20 minutes for 14 hours a day, but might be all plastic. I'm sure there's *some* Disneyland/6 Flags/Magic Mountain ride that you could leave the '60 on if you had the right container that'd do the same as the monorail.

I simply provided one example. Someone with more time and imagination could certainly come up with many more effective targets. For that matter, depending upon how much material there was available it could be spread over many targets.

While a dirty bomb would be attention grabbing, something approximating a plague onset would not only put local people in fear, but over a much wider area.

Back in 1995, when I was visiting Prague and three men were found to be driving around with 6 lbs of enriched Uranium in their car, looking for a buyer, I had much the same thoughts.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 8 months ago | (#45685461)

Back in 1995, when I was visiting Prague and three men were found to be driving around with 6 lbs of enriched Uranium in their car, looking for a buyer, I had much the same thoughts.

In much the same delusional way I am certain the TLA boyz will abuse any snooping capability they possess, it seems likely to me, an admittedly small sampling, that this is a material that has been on the market frequently enough for some of the bad guys/freedom fighters to have acquired it. What the duck are they waiting for?

Re:So In Effect... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#45685921)

There's plenty of more dangerous public locations, and a lot of semi-private ones would be worse.

You'd conceal it next to a queue.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 8 months ago | (#45685665)

Terrorists want spectacular explosions preferably captured in tape and replayed endlessly in CNN. There are thousand other ways to kill more people (probably, I really don't know, so please do not try to track me down NSA creep) but civilization survives because the terrorists are dumb and unimaginative.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

rhook (943951) | about 8 months ago | (#45685961)

They'd have more luck putting it in the back of a big rig and getting in line at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Re:So In Effect... (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 8 months ago | (#45686995)

Cave Johnson, is that you?

61 (5, Funny)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 8 months ago | (#45685031)

'61 was a much better year for Cobalt. Cobalt-60 far overrated, and people are paying too much for it on the open market.

Re:61 (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#45685159)

people are paying too much for it on the open market

Typical knee-jerk Cobalt60-skepticism here on Slashdot. Everyone wants to compare it to tulip mania and yell "bubble", and won't believe that the recent price run-up is because people are genuinely finding it useful as a non-state-controlled currency. USD's days are numbered; in the future, coins glow blue.

Re:61 (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#45685239)

Swap your dollars for a Co60-Coin, it has a longer half-life than Bitcoins.

Re:61 (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 8 months ago | (#45685607)

USD's days are numbered; in the future, coins glow blue.

And since no one will want to hang onto Cobalt-60 coins for too long, all that frantic spending will stimulate the economy!

Re:61 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686239)

That reminds me a a science fiction story I read many years ago. Probably a short story or novella in Analog. The aliens in the story needed a certain amount of radiation to be healthy and their money was made with a radioactive material. Everyone kept their extra money in a pit but no one wanted to be too rich because if they accumulated enough money their pile of coins would go critical and blow up. The story was about how they tried to avoid getting to rich. dfw

Re:61 (1)

MarkRose (820682) | about 8 months ago | (#45685673)

Call me a skeptic all you want, but I'm telling you, if you put your money into Cobalt60 now, you'll be lucky to even have half five years from now. The value of the USD may be eroding, but not at 13% per year! Stay away from it like it were radioactive!

Coins are old school. The future is in gaseous money! And you'll like this: it's also blue! That's right friends, the future is Iodine131! You can't spend it fast enough! There is so much demand for it that you can't keep it around! Not only that, it doesn't weight down your pockets like Cobalt60, no, you can keep it in your lungs!

Re:61 (1)

tool462 (677306) | about 8 months ago | (#45685991)

What a bunch of crap. Everybody knows Co-60 is a deflationary currency. If you hold it, half of it will be nothing but nickels in about 5 years (Ni-60 to be exact). Oh, and you'll be dead.

Re:61 (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#45685353)

'58 was event better, by an order of magnitude...

Re:61 (3, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45685421)

I opened 750ml bottle of Cobalt '60, but less than 1ml of it was still fresh.

Anyone within a foot of me after eating Mexican... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685137)

is at far more risk!

Re:Anyone within a foot of me after eating Mexican (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685781)

Why will that Republican stereotype of Mexicans being radioactive just not die? You people that keep perpetuating that lie should be ashamed of yourselves. It's racism of the worst sort.

activity level of 3000 curries... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685189)

Finally, we have proof of how lethal Indian food is!

You don't even need to eat the stuff, just be exposed to A LOT of curries for 30 seconds and you're dead!

From now on, I will wear lead underwear when passing by an Indian restaurant. Safety is my #1 priority!

And how many Courics is that? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685201)

Bono is the main man when it comes to monster sized turds. He is all turd you know. Randy Marsh is reported to have dumped a 100-Couric turd but you know how that is.

Good terrorist training article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685213)

I'm so glad the news is reporting on exactly how to cause most deaths vs most economic havoc; the terrorists should bookmark this for their training seminars.

*facepalm*

The ECONOMIC consequences? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685265)

>the economic consequences could have been extremely significant

    That's a good way to measure the effects of thousands of innocent people dying mysteriously--the ECONOMIC consequences.

    Perhaps we should but Cobalt-90 in an area where only unemployed people are likely to come in contact with it? Think of the economic benefits!

Looking forward to reading the IAEA report (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685291)

Many nuclear accidents in countries that cooperate with the IAEA get a a detailed freely available public report [iaea.org] which is quite interesting reading.

but the bigger question is (1)

themushroom (197365) | about 8 months ago | (#45685305)

Have any radiation-scorched-flesh Mexican men's bodies been found to date?

Because really, I can't believe in the danger we've been told about until the headlines of "them banditos are doomed, they opened the capsule" are proven true.

Re:but the bigger question is (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 8 months ago | (#45685389)

Yeah, deadly dose within minutes they said.....but all the suspects were released from the hospital with no apparent problems. Granted, there could be longer term impacts, but it goes to show how much radiation fears can be overblown. Typically you get the worst case scenario description in the press.

Re:but the bigger question is (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685635)

Do we know for a fact that they opened the container?

Re:but the bigger question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685679)

It depends entirely on the circumstances immediately after opening the shielded container. If they dumped it out on the ground, looked at it for a second then decided it was worthless and walked away their exposure is non-lethal, but they could have just as easily held it in their hands and examined it closely before deciding it was worthless and tossing it, dooming themselves to certain death. If they were lucky enough not to have given themselves a fatal dose that doesn't mean it wasn't extremely dangerous. A similar incident in south america resulted in multiple deaths and a huge and expensive cleanup. In that case radio active powder of medical origin was released from a shielded container in a densely populated slum.

Re:but the bigger question is (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 8 months ago | (#45686121)

More likely they just got lucky.

Re:but the bigger question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686265)

News reports said those people weren't really "suspects", just people who happened to end up near the container at some point and notified officials

Similar incident in Brazil in 1987 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685433)

A similar device got loose in Brazil back in 1987, and serves as an example of the kind of mayhem that can heppen when one of these sources get loose even in the hands of non-malicious people. The story on it in wikipedia is interesting - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident.

Re:Similar incident in Brazil in 1987 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686733)

Hmm, Cobalt-60 is MUCH worse than the amount of Ceasium-137 (used in a X-ray machine) from the Brazilian incident. In the brazilian incident, people smeared themselves with the "cool looking powder" they got from hammering the caesium source, as well as played directly with it... so there was direct contact with the radioactive material, as well as ingestion through the air. It was a *BITCH* to clean up after the mess, since it was dispersed everywhere by the imbecilic sods. Yes, we learn about radiation in school, if those sods had not missed classes, they'd know to stay the heck away from anything with the dreaded radioactive warning pictogram. They were poor, uneducated, and curious. And died an extremely horrible death (and also brought it to their families) because of it.

Now, Mexico is different. There was so much Cobalt-60 involved in the Mexico incident, that it should have been transfered under severe military protection (or not at all).

I found it! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#45685485)

Hey gais! I found Slashdot's interest in this story! Hey gais!

The presence of arsenic in cobalt ore and the useless powder produced by ordinary smelting techniques led them to tag the dark metal kobold, meaning “goblin,” and thus “cobalt".

Is the Economy your god? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685533)

"the economic consequences could have been extremely significant"

ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES?!?! *That's* what comes to mind?!?!?

Re:Is the Economy your god? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685879)

You can't cause megadeaths with the amount of cobalt in the truck. A dirty bomb has to have a rather small explosive charge, or else it will disperse the cobalt or other radioactive material too much for it to have any significant effect, and once people wise up to the fact that the area's radioactive, the area will be avoided. Most of the deaths will thus be from the initial bomb explosion, which has to be small, and all the cobalt will do is keep people from visiting the affected area for decades or until it's been cleaned up. Most of the harm will thus be economic in nature. It's thus a lousy terrorist weapon despite all the hand-wringing about it.

Can the owners of Slashdot make up their minds? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685667)

When the world's worst nuclear disaster at Fukushima was fresh in the news, the owners of Slashdot promoted endless stories, created as propaganda by industry shills, stating that the public fear of nuclear radiation was laughably overblown, and that actually a good dose of radiation is good for you (yes, Slashdot actually carried stories making this claim). Indeed, Slashdot promoted stories over and over laughably claiming that radiation from Fukushima had killed no-one, and would certainly not be responsible for deaths in the future.

Now, in a different context, we discover that if the reputation of the nuclear 'industry' is NOT perceived to be at risk, suddenly radioactive isotopes become deadly again. Forget 'intelligent design', the owners of Slashdot ore pushing the concept of 'INTELLIGENT RADIATION' that looks at the circumstances behind why people are being exposed before deciding whether to harm Human health or not.

This is how stupid the owners of Slashdot think YOU are. The most significant explosion at Fukushima blasted tons of plutonium (the Japanese power station was part of Japan's hardly hidden nuclear warhead processing pipelines) across the surrounding, significantly inhabited, areas. All of a sudden, the world's mainstream media 'spontaneously' decided that plutonium actually wasn't a deadly health risk after all. Of course, students of history can witness the sheeple of EVERY Human era being duped just as laughably, when the people in power benefit from such propaganda lies. But each new generation of sheeple manage to persuade themselves that such lies belong to darker times when people were more gullible, and that THEY, the current sheeple, couldn't possibly fall for such transparent manipulation. And by 'THEY', I mean YOU, the current idiots that get everything you THINK you know from mainstream media sources.

Oh, and here's a little recent example of the same. After the false flag of 9/11, which resurrected the US war planning described in Operation Northwoods, as demanded by the PNAC document, there was a propaganda need to keep 9/11 at the top of the news cycle for the weeks that followed, until the US could arrange its rolling programs of genocides, beginning with Afghanistan. The MAIN method was to have news crews constantly report from the site of World Trade Centre, and talk about the amazing rivers of molten steel underground that kept the site so 'hot' it could be thermally identified by satellites. One problem- the story as given to the sheeple about 'kinectic collapses' could NEVER explian the presence of masses of molten steel.

At first no-one noticed. A few years later, it became a major issue (the towers came down because their steel 'skeleton' was literally melted away at key points- the ONLY way to demolish such buildings in a 'resistance free' free fall collapse). The response of your masters, and the mainstream media outlets they control? To DENY that any news coverage had ever discussed or filmed molten steel at the World Trade Centre site. The BBC- the frontline propagandist at the time, actually removed ALL general access to its archives when the problem became apparent, and removed the hundreds of news broadcasts that focused on the rivers of molten steel.

Sheeple are known to have the memory of goldfish. The sea of mainstream media is KNOWN to wipe all memory of older mainstream media propaganda, if the new propaganda consistently pushes a new direction, and access to recording of the old propaganda is effectively non-existent for most people. The book, 1984, famously has this phenomenon as one of its central themes- because its author was intimately aware of the same tricks used by the British (not Soviet) establishment. The Soviets were way too clumsy and heavy handed. The BBC, on the other hand, prides itself on being able to produce diametrically opposite propaganda in adjoining years without its viewers noticing the shift.

Overly technical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45685903)

The entire quote beginning from "'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters..." should have been shortened down to something like what was found near the end of that quote (which was still over-long and bloviating). Therefore, approximately like the following:

"A person standing 1 foot away from this material for 30 seconds, unshielded, would stand a 50% chance of dying from the resultant exposure."

They needed to answer the question: How dangerous is this stuff? In terms any non-specialist can understand. Cut it out with the Curies, Rems, Category 1, disguised LD50 and technical jargon.

Answer: Really, really dangerous!

libraries of congress? (1)

dwater (72834) | about 8 months ago | (#45686155)

just how many libraries of congress is that?

I'd at least expect a fukushima or something...

Cobalt-60, and LESIONS From a Mexican Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686325)

Lessons? more like lesions!

radiation is dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686357)

I don't see how. I can understand ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but from cobalt? I guess cobalt gives tans like the sun or burns the skin? Can someone explain? Thanks

Cold Pastuerization (1)

Tetetrasaurus (1859006) | about 8 months ago | (#45686549)

This is why food irradiation using radioactive elements, fondly rejiggered with the euphemism "cold pasteurization", is so insane. There are cheap food factories all over the U.S. with amounts of Cobalt-60 much greater than in this recent heist, with laughable security, all so we can be fed rotten, contaminated food they shouldn't be selling anyway.

The possible costs so outweigh the questionable "benefits" in this case, there is no other way to describe this terrorist-tragedy-waiting-to-happen other than willful, reckless endangerment of the lives of millions. All to make a few more dollars selling diseased meat.

Re:Cold Pastuerization (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 months ago | (#45686749)

"rotten, contaminated"

Citation would be useful here.

Re:Cold Pastuerization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45686823)

I think he means that animals who showed signs of diseases or infections after slaughter or animal products such as milk which has a higher than normal concentration of bacteria present are irradiated to kill off the nasties and put into the food chain anyway. It doesn't sound like something the FDA would allow but stranger things have slipped through.

Re:Cold Pastuerization (-1)

Tetetrasaurus (1859006) | about 8 months ago | (#45687143)

You totally ignored the entire point about the dangers of having all this Cobalt-60 lying around all over the country, unprotected in the hands of idiots, but instead choose to defend the image of these food processors and the quality of their contaminated product, responding with a standard "citation please"? WTF is wrong with you? Whatever your motivations, you need help.

Origin story (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 months ago | (#45686551)

This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds

Yes, but the other half would get super-powers.

I know how this stuff works. I read books. I been trying to break into x-ray labs for years hoping to get, like, you know, all buff and everything. Go ahead and laugh. We'll see who's laughing when I'm a one-man Fantastic Four.

Wrong (1)

koan (80826) | about 8 months ago | (#45686655)

"Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.”"

I think how effective a weapon it is depends entire on where it is dispersed.

Say a water supply, a crowded subway, or maybe just go around dropping pellets on side walks.

Dead in 60 seconds? (1)

blanchae (965013) | about 8 months ago | (#45686901)

Everyone is claiming that if you were within 3 feet of the Cobalt-60, you would be dead within 30 seconds or within an hour. How come the guys who stole the Cobalt-60 and opened the box are still alive? Lots of doom and gloom but the thieves are still alive [theverge.com] days after and none appear in grave danger.

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