Radiological Theft and Diversion Incidents: Analysis of World-Wide Events Occurring in Calendar Year 2003

R. Sullivan; F. Monette; R. Johnson; R. Lindley; J. Adduci; and D. LePoire (Argonne National Laboratory)

Hundreds of radionuclide theft and diversion incidents have been reported over the past decade. Although few of these incidents have been linked with terrorism at this time, the potential for terrorists to obtain radionuclides for use in terrorist attacks is real. This presentation summarizes and evaluates 256 radionuclide theft and diversion cases worldwide that were reported by available open sources and other unclassified sources to have occurred during Calendar Year (CY) 2003. The work was conducted for the International Radiological Threat Reduction (IRTR) Program within the National Nuclear Security Administration. The information was derived using Argonne National Laboratory's (Argonne's) Radionuclide Theft and Diversion Incident Analysis System (THADIAS), a relational database and geographic information system (GIS) that records and maps a variety of technical attributes of lost/stolen/recovered materials and circumstances surrounding thefts and recoveries. THADIAS links the individual events that make up a case, (e.g., material theft, transport, attempted sale and arrest) and allows common factors to be identified between cases. The report is structured around origin (thefts, losses, and accounting discrepancies), recovery, and transfer (sale/attempted sale) events. Major conclusions from the analysis of reported CY 2003 incidents include (1) Cs-137 and Am-241 were the two radionuclides most commonly involved in events; (2) theft was the primary origin event type worldwide; (3) mobile source security and thefts/losses from vehicles are significant problems requiring attention; (4) most lost/stolen material is not associated with "nuclear" facilities; (5) most material reported lost/stolen was not reported to be recovered; (6) most lost/stolen sources have relatively low activity levels; and (7) patterns may differ markedly depending on region. Limitations, data quality, and coverage issues are also discussed. Work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, under contract W-31-109-Eng-38. The submitted manuscript has been created by the University of Chicago as Operator of Argonne National Laboratory ("Argonne") under Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government retains for itself, and others acting on its behalf, a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license in said article to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, by or on behalf of the Government.

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