Skip to comments.Radioactive substance seized in Latvia is strontium: official (can be used for dirty bombs)
Posted on 10/29/2003 2:46:03 PM PST by FairOpinion
Radioactive substances seized by Latvian security services last week have been identified as strontium, which can be used in making a so-called "dirty bomb", a spokesman for the Baltic country's security services said on Wednesday. "The radiation security center is investigating the quantity, content, activity time and place of producing this substance. Strontium could be used in making a so-called 'dirty bomb'," Dainis Mikelsons, a press officer at the Constitutional Protection Bureau told AFP.
Latvia's secret service seized the substance last week, saying they had averted a possible threat to state security. The amount seized has not been revealed and will not be known until next week.
Strontium is a rare substance, which is also used as a radioactive isotope.
Like caesium, it is an element that can inflict ionising radiation -- radiation that can cause changes to cell DNA that are often the cause of cancer or can transmit birth deformities.
Strontium takes a long time to decay to safe levels, which -- in theory -- would make it useful for making a "dirty bomb": a device that would explode and spew radioactive material over parts of a city or a complex, making them unhabitable for a long while.
Mikelsons said that four people who had been detained on October 23 in the corridor of the University of Latvia's solid-state radiation chemistry laboratory in connection with the find had since been released.
"Latvian laws do not envisage bringing to trial persons suspected of illegal handling of radioactive substances if not repeated within a one-year period," Mikelsons said.
He declined to identify the people concerned, but stressed that they are not from the laboratory where they had been detained.
Kristine Apse-Krumina, an aid of the Security Police chief, said a thorough analysis of the substance had been carried out at the Radiation Security Center and that the experts' conclusion would be ready in a week.