By Arnie Gundersen
October 27, 2020
Unfortunately, my takeaway from these events and other small explosive events all over the United States is that it is relatively easy for a lone-wolf militant or several militia-type American citizens to build and detonate explosive devices in populated areas.
Now imagine if someone laced those same devices with radioactive isotopes! When a detonation device explodes and releases radioactivity, it is known as a ‘dirty bomb’. It is not like a nuclear bomb that creates radioactivity from its atomic chain reaction and its ensuing explosions, like the atomic bombs used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or all the atomic bombs tested over the Pacific Ocean or rural areas of the western United States. Instead, a dirty bomb is a traditional explosive device laced with radioactivity obtained elsewhere, usually stolen.
Depending upon the explosives used, a dirty bomb may destroy a single building or many buildings when it explodes. However, the real damage is from its release of radioactive material. When a dirty bomb explodes, the radioactivity moves outward, landing on the surrounding area, the first responders, civilians, adjoining buildings, streets, and cars that are blocks away. The microparticles of radioactivity that cannot be seen or smelled, and usually not tasted, travel on the wind and weather as it blows through the area.
In theory, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) carefully monitors all radioactive material allegedly controlled at manufacturing facilities, power plants, hospitals, testing labs, and nuclear research labs.
Last week, I found myself rudely awakened from my belief that the NRC, the federal regulatory agency that controls most commercial nuclear facilities, really had control of our nation’s nuclear materials. I was shocked when I learned that officials in Pennsylvania had uncovered two empty houses loaded with radioactive materials that did not belong to the people who had lived there and for which no protections for individuals or the nearby community had ever been in place.
The homeowners had died, and their houses were being prepared for auction when workers uncovered the toxic radioactivity. Forty-five containers filled with radioactive material, including Radium-226 and Strontium-90 previously stolen from a radioactive Superfund site, were discovered at these two adjoining homes. We have looked at media everywhere since the NRC issued the Event Notification Report #54936 detailing this chilling discovery. It appears that thus far, there has been no press coverage at all.
The Strontium-90 (Sr90) found at this site is called a bone seeker, which means that if inhaled or ingested, it is absorbed in peoples’ bones just like calcium is. Sr90 is known to cause leukemia. In the environment, Strontium-90 lingers for as long as 300 years and emits beta particles with an energy of 500,000 electron volts.
There are so many questions that the NRC and the local officials need to answer to investigate this incident. Will we learn the truth, or will it all be swept under the NRC rug and associated agencies in this investigation?
- How were 45 containers of radioactive material stolen, and when?
- Who stole the 45 containers, and for what purpose?
- Was anyone in the public overexposed, and for how many years?
- How did the owners of the two houses die?
- For what purpose would someone take these highly radioactive isotopes?
- Are there more materials out there from the same site?
- And, when will the public be informed?
It appears that no one knew that a lot of radioactive material was even missing, and luckily it has now been recovered. The two houses contained hazardous types of radiation (Ra226 and Sr90). In the wrong hands, this material would easily have made a very horrible dirty bomb. Uncovering this hazard was a lucky discovery.
To quote Pippin, “It is smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart!” We were lucky this time. Piles of radioactivity lie in many places all over the country, and most disturbingly, it is not well-monitored. Most of all, during the last four years, the current administration has continued to relax NRC and EPA regulations that protect our communities, our neighborhoods, and workers from such unyielding hazards. We must stop looking away and work together to protect all Americans from the radioactive dangers located in almost every state in the country. Radioactivity is not a little spill that can be easily dug up and contained. Quite simply, it contaminates everything around it and migrates in microparticles of dust and dirt.