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Title: Illicit Trafficking in Radiological and Nuclear Materials. Lack of Regulations and Attainable Disposal for Radioactive Materials Make Them More Vulnerable than Nuclear Materials

Abstract

Illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials is far from a new issue. Reports of nuclear materials offered for sale as well as mythical materials such as red mercury date back to the 1960's. While such reports were primarily scams, it illustrates the fact that from an early date there were criminal elements willing to sell nuclear materials, albeit mythical ones, to turn a quick profit. In that same time frame, information related to lost and abandoned radioactive sources began to be reported. Unlike reports on nuclear material of that era, these reports on abandoned sources were based in fact - occasionally associated with resulting injury and death. With the collapse of the Former Soviet Union, illicit trafficking turned from a relatively unnoticed issue to one of global concern. Reports of unsecured nuclear and radiological material in the states of the Former Soviet Union, along with actual seizures of such material in transit, gave the clear message that illicit trafficking was now a real and urgent problem. In 1995, the IAEA established an Illicit Trafficking Data Base to keep track of confirmed instances. Illicit Trafficking is deemed to include not only radioactive materials that have been offered for sale ormore » crossed international boarders, but also such materials that are no longer under appropriate regulatory control. As an outcome of 9/11, the United States took a closer look at illicit nuclear trafficking as well as a reassessment of the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials both in the United States and Globally. This reassessment launched heightened controls and security domestically and increased our efforts internationally to prevent illicit nuclear trafficking. This reassessment also brought about the Global Threat Reduction Initiative which aims to further reduce the threats of weapons usable nuclear materials as well those of radioactive sealed sources. This paper will focus on the issues related to a subset of the materials involved in illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials, that of radioactive sealed sources. The focus on radioactive sealed sources is based on our belief that insufficient attention has been paid to trafficking incidents involving such sources which constitute the majority of trafficking cases. According to the IAEA's Illicit Trafficking Data Base, as of December 31 2005 there were 827 confirmed cases reporting by the participating states, including 250 incidents (or 30%) involved nuclear and other radioactive materials and 566 (or 68%) involved other radioactive materials, mostly radioactive sources, and radioactively contaminated materials. Experts in the Lugar Survey on Proliferation Threat and Response (June 2005) agreed that an attack with a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD) was the most probable form of nuclear terrorism the world could expect over the next decade. At the same time radiological materials are used in wide a variety of applications, located in virtually every country and in general, radiological materials are far easier to access than nuclear materials. It has become increasingly obvious that the lack of a cradle-to-grave approach for sealed radioactive sources that have reached the end of their useful life is the main reason that sources are abandoned. It appears that the questions will ultimately become whether industry will impose additional regulations upon itself and become self-regulating with respect to repatriating radioactive material at the end of service life, or whether national authorities at some point will take actions and regulate the industry. Argentina, which is one of the most advanced countries regarding control of radiological sources adopted additional measures to safeguard its radiological materials to a level comparable to that proscribed for nuclear materials. This approach, while highly successful, has led to some minor unforeseen consequences, namely insufficient funds to implement all regulations in full and a lack of inspectors and appropriate equipment to assure compliance This is not an unusual outcome. Regulations imposed by a national regulatory authority may be technically excellent, but their implementation may provide a funding challenge. A more practical approach may be to have the industry to impose regulations upon itself, which could be accomplished within the economics of the industries involved. (authors)« less

Authors:
; ;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9 - 332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
21294715
Report Number(s):
INIS-US-09-WM-07357
TRN: US10V0244040905
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM'07: 2007 Waste Management Symposium - Global Accomplishments in Environmental and Radioactive Waste Management: Education and Opportunity for the Next Generation of Waste Management Professionals, Tucson, AZ (United States), 25 Feb - 1 Mar 2007; Other Information: Country of input: France; 10 refs
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; 07 ISOTOPES AND RADIATION SOURCES; IAEA; RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS; RADIOLOGICAL DISPERSAL DEVICES; REGULATIONS; SAFETY; SEALED SOURCES; SECURITY

Citation Formats

Balatsky, G I, Severe, W R, and Leonard, L. Illicit Trafficking in Radiological and Nuclear Materials. Lack of Regulations and Attainable Disposal for Radioactive Materials Make Them More Vulnerable than Nuclear Materials. United States: N. p., 2007. Web.
Balatsky, G I, Severe, W R, & Leonard, L. Illicit Trafficking in Radiological and Nuclear Materials. Lack of Regulations and Attainable Disposal for Radioactive Materials Make Them More Vulnerable than Nuclear Materials. United States.
Balatsky, G I, Severe, W R, and Leonard, L. Sun . "Illicit Trafficking in Radiological and Nuclear Materials. Lack of Regulations and Attainable Disposal for Radioactive Materials Make Them More Vulnerable than Nuclear Materials". United States.
@article{osti_21294715,
title = {Illicit Trafficking in Radiological and Nuclear Materials. Lack of Regulations and Attainable Disposal for Radioactive Materials Make Them More Vulnerable than Nuclear Materials},
author = {Balatsky, G I and Severe, W R and Leonard, L},
abstractNote = {Illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials is far from a new issue. Reports of nuclear materials offered for sale as well as mythical materials such as red mercury date back to the 1960's. While such reports were primarily scams, it illustrates the fact that from an early date there were criminal elements willing to sell nuclear materials, albeit mythical ones, to turn a quick profit. In that same time frame, information related to lost and abandoned radioactive sources began to be reported. Unlike reports on nuclear material of that era, these reports on abandoned sources were based in fact - occasionally associated with resulting injury and death. With the collapse of the Former Soviet Union, illicit trafficking turned from a relatively unnoticed issue to one of global concern. Reports of unsecured nuclear and radiological material in the states of the Former Soviet Union, along with actual seizures of such material in transit, gave the clear message that illicit trafficking was now a real and urgent problem. In 1995, the IAEA established an Illicit Trafficking Data Base to keep track of confirmed instances. Illicit Trafficking is deemed to include not only radioactive materials that have been offered for sale or crossed international boarders, but also such materials that are no longer under appropriate regulatory control. As an outcome of 9/11, the United States took a closer look at illicit nuclear trafficking as well as a reassessment of the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials both in the United States and Globally. This reassessment launched heightened controls and security domestically and increased our efforts internationally to prevent illicit nuclear trafficking. This reassessment also brought about the Global Threat Reduction Initiative which aims to further reduce the threats of weapons usable nuclear materials as well those of radioactive sealed sources. This paper will focus on the issues related to a subset of the materials involved in illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials, that of radioactive sealed sources. The focus on radioactive sealed sources is based on our belief that insufficient attention has been paid to trafficking incidents involving such sources which constitute the majority of trafficking cases. According to the IAEA's Illicit Trafficking Data Base, as of December 31 2005 there were 827 confirmed cases reporting by the participating states, including 250 incidents (or 30%) involved nuclear and other radioactive materials and 566 (or 68%) involved other radioactive materials, mostly radioactive sources, and radioactively contaminated materials. Experts in the Lugar Survey on Proliferation Threat and Response (June 2005) agreed that an attack with a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD) was the most probable form of nuclear terrorism the world could expect over the next decade. At the same time radiological materials are used in wide a variety of applications, located in virtually every country and in general, radiological materials are far easier to access than nuclear materials. It has become increasingly obvious that the lack of a cradle-to-grave approach for sealed radioactive sources that have reached the end of their useful life is the main reason that sources are abandoned. It appears that the questions will ultimately become whether industry will impose additional regulations upon itself and become self-regulating with respect to repatriating radioactive material at the end of service life, or whether national authorities at some point will take actions and regulate the industry. Argentina, which is one of the most advanced countries regarding control of radiological sources adopted additional measures to safeguard its radiological materials to a level comparable to that proscribed for nuclear materials. This approach, while highly successful, has led to some minor unforeseen consequences, namely insufficient funds to implement all regulations in full and a lack of inspectors and appropriate equipment to assure compliance This is not an unusual outcome. Regulations imposed by a national regulatory authority may be technically excellent, but their implementation may provide a funding challenge. A more practical approach may be to have the industry to impose regulations upon itself, which could be accomplished within the economics of the industries involved. (authors)},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2007},
month = {7}
}

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