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BBC: Radioactive traces on BA planes
BBC ^ | Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 21:29 GMT | BBC Staff

Posted on 11/29/2006 1:43:40 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 21:29 GMT

Radioactive traces on BA planes

Alexander Litvinenko

Mr Litvinenko was a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Traces of a radioactive substance have been found on two British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport, says BA.

The planes, plus a third in Moscow, are being tested as part of the probe into the death from radiation poisoning of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

BA is trying to make contact with up to 33,000 passengers who travelled on the 221 European flights affected, including the London to Moscow route.

The airline said it had been advised the risk to public health was low.

Passengers are asked to check the flight details BA is publishing on its website and to contact NHS Direct or a special helpline number if they travelled on the affected flights.

BA told the BBC's Moscow bureau the third plane was currently at the city's Domodedovo airport.

A British team - thought to be police experts - will go to Moscow shortly to test the aircraft.

The airline said it had not been confirmed when the Boeing 767s could have been contaminated but forensics experts were "looking back to the end of October".

DESTINATIONS AFFECTED

Moscow

Barcelona

Dusseldorf

Athens

Larnaca

Stockholm

Vienna

Frankfurt

Istanbul

Madrid

All flight numbers published on the BA website

The BBC's Richard Galpin said the traces could be there from anyone who had been in contact with Mr Litvinenko, or could have come from someone bringing the substance to the UK.

Initial results of the forensic tests had shown very low traces of a radioactive substance onboard two of the three aircraft, said BA.

Traces of radioactive polonium-210 were discovered in Mr Litvinenko's body when he died in London last week.

More traces of the substance have been found at venues he visited in the capital on 1 November.

The Health Protection Agency - which has been assessing people potentially at risk of contamination - has reassured the public that the risk of having been exposed to the substance remains low.

Chief executive Professor Pat Troop said: "What we have heard is that it's either traces or very low levels and what we have learnt so far in our investigation... is that where we have got these areas of low level radiation it doesn't seem to pose a significant health threat."

BA was contacted by the government on Tuesday night and took the three planes out of service to let forensic tests go ahead.

EXPOSURE RISK

Contact with carrier's sweat or urine could lead to exposure

But polonium-210 must be ingested to cause damage

Radiation has very short range and cannot pass through skin

Washing eliminates traces

The airline said the investigation was confined to those three B767s, which would remain out of service until further notice.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh told Channel 4 News: "The advice that we have is that the risk to public health is actually very, very low.

"But I think it's only right that we identify the flights that have been involved and make the information available to the customers."

An estimated 3,000 staff would also need to checked, he added.

Home Secretary John Reid chaired a meeting of the government's COBRA committee on Wednesday, receiving updates from police, health authorities and others on the Litvinenko case.

A Home Office spokesman said Mr Reid expected to make a statement to Parliament concerning the investigation on Thursday.

Friends have said Mr Litvinenko was poisoned because of his criticism of Russia but the Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement.

  • British Airways has set up a special helpline for customers in the UK on 0845 6040171 or 0191 211 3690 for international calls.

  • Passengers who travelled on those flights and want further advice are advised to telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.


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TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: britishairways; litvinenko; plutonium; polonium210

1 posted on 11/29/2006 1:43:41 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Howlin

fyi


2 posted on 11/29/2006 1:45:12 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Polonium has just moved up a notch on the terroist wish we had list.


3 posted on 11/29/2006 1:46:23 PM PST by claptrap (We've found a Witch can we burn her?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Methinks Uncle Putin has bitten off quite a bit more than he can chew here.


4 posted on 11/29/2006 1:47:50 PM PST by WestVirginiaRebel (Common sense will do to liberalism what the atomic bomb did to Nagasaki-Rush Limbaugh)
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To: WestVirginiaRebel
Any word if slick Joe is going to raise the gas tax?
5 posted on 11/29/2006 1:51:07 PM PST by StoneWall Brigade (GO ARMY BEAT NAVY!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: WestVirginiaRebel
From this Blog....:

Archive for the 'Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Chechens' Category

Putin may also be the object of a frameup.....

6 posted on 11/29/2006 1:51:46 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

bttt


7 posted on 11/29/2006 1:51:57 PM PST by Guenevere
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

33,000 passengers? And a lot of them traveling to Russia. In the words of a submarine officer in The Hunt For Red October [the Konovalov's own torpedo is about to strike the Konovalov] "You arrogant ass. You've killed *us*!


8 posted on 11/29/2006 1:52:39 PM PST by Ben Mugged (Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Finally something that will bring these back into style!


9 posted on 11/29/2006 2:00:51 PM PST by Yaelle
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Traces of a radioactive substance have been found...

Let's hope these "traces" didn't originate in the coffee that was certainly ingested by most of the passengers.

10 posted on 11/29/2006 2:05:01 PM PST by LurkedLongEnough
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To: Yaelle

Nice picture....


11 posted on 11/29/2006 2:15:57 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The Russian SVR are not simpletons. If they were going to bring the poison into the country they would have done so in diplomatic pouches, and it would have been absolutely untraceable. Berezovsky has out done himself this time.


12 posted on 11/29/2006 9:38:00 PM PST by GarySpFc
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