A 23kg radioactive device has been missing since 10 Aug in Malaysia.
Today (20 Aug) marks the 10th day of its disappearance enroute a 1-hour journey from Seremban to Shah Alam.
The device – which fell out of a Nissan truck – contains radioactive material Iridium-192, which emits deadly beta and gamma radiation upon decay after passing its half-life of 73 days.
Originally used as radiography equipment for industrial purposes, authorities fear that it may fall into the wrong hands and be used for nefarious purposes.
Iridium-192 is the compound “most stolen” to assemble a ‘dirty bomb’.
Dirty bombs are non-nuclear devices which use conventional explosives to spread “radioactive material over a wide area”.
Worryingly, 23kg worth of radioactive material is plenty to go around.
But get this — the contents of the missing device will not be dangerous, as long as it stays within its lead-shielded casing.
How could a hefty device disappear into thin air?
You wouldn’t believe us even if we told you the story — and hilariously, Malaysian police didn’t either.
Two technicians in their mid-30s loaded the device into a pick-up truck headed to Seremban — a 3-hour drive from Singapore.
After the task was completed, they left Seremban to go back to their Shah Alam office in the wee hours of 10 Aug, at 2am.
An hour’s drive later, they were horrified to discover that the device was missing from their truck.
Apparently, their tailgate had been lowered when they reached their office. According to the unlucky duo, they believe the device may have fallen out during the journey.
Authorities scoured the route they had taken, but to no avail.
There was no sign of anyone tampering with the tailgate, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
As the locking mechanism was functioning well, police didn’t think the back of the truck could have unlocked itself.
Anyway, police officers kept the two technicians in jail as they thought their story was too far-fetched.
But the pair was released after police ruled out terrorism or criminal activity, based on interviews and their handphones’ content.
Besides being used for possible terror-related activities, if the device is handled by unknowing users who may dismantle it for scrap metal — it will most definitely implode.
If 23 kg of Iridium is used as a dirty bomb in Seremban instead, NuclearSecrecy.com estimates that there will be 2,240 fatalities and a radiation radius of 150m.
If the device was indeed stolen, thieves would make a quick buck too — it’s worth a whopping S$25,000 (RM75,000).
Ironically, there are no current leads to the missing lead-encased radioactive device, but Malaysian police have cautioned citizens to contact authorities immediately upon seeing it.
We hope the Malaysian authorities will track down and dispose of the missing device soon.
For their sake, as well as ours.
Or the consequences may be catastrophic to say the least.
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