This is not good. According to the school, the amount that they can’t find is very small but that doesn’t mean much. It could still potentially be used to make a dirty bomb.
The Idaho Statesman reports:
Idaho school can’t find small bit of weapons-grade plutonium
A small amount of radioactive, weapons-grade plutonium about the size of a U.S. quarter is missing from an Idaho university that was using it for research, leading federal officials on Friday to propose an $8,500 fine.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Idaho State University can’t account for about a 30th of an ounce (1 gram) of the material that’s used in nuclear reactors and to make nuclear bombs.
The amount is too small to make a nuclear bomb, agency spokesman Victor Dricks said, but could be used to make a dirty bomb to spread radioactive contamination.
“The NRC has very rigorous controls for the use and storage of radioactive materials as evidenced by this enforcement action,” he said of the proposed fine for failing to keep track of the material.
Dr. Cornelis Van der Schyf, vice president for research at the university, blamed partially completed paperwork from 15 years ago as the school tried to dispose of the plutonium.
“Unfortunately, because there was a lack of sufficient historical records to demonstrate the disposal pathway employed in 2003, the source in question had to be listed as missing,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The radioactive source in question poses no direct health issue or risk to public safety.”
Maybe the FBI should shift its focus to this situation and drop the pointless Russia probe. Just a thought.