On 24th July, the Nuclear Threat Initiative published the updated annual edition of the Global Incidents and Trafficking Database. It documents 156 incidents in 23 countries where nuclear and other radioactive materials were found outside of regulatory control in 2018. One of the most notable — and troubling — incidents involved, it says, is the loss of 1 gram of weapons-grade plutonium from a university in the US. Since the database was created in 2013, researchers at CNS (which compiles the database) have identified more than 1,000 incidents worldwide.
An accompanying CNS Incidents and Trafficking Report examines emerging trends, highlights incident case studies, and offers policy recommendations – with interactive maps and visualisations that show the entire database at a glance, illustrate incidents of concern, and highlight efforts to keep potentially dangerous materials from falling into the wrong hands.
For example, there are 7 recorded incidents in the UK and Ireland – though none since 2015 (when Strontium-90 was found on a beach in East Anglia).
The report includes how the loss of an Iridium-192 source in Malaysia in 2018 resulted in panic, misinformation and economic disruption (and the source has still not been found).
Another table (see Table 2 below) lists losses of material of RDD concern (i.e. material that might be used for a terrorist “dirty bomb”).
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