- Conference date: 07–12 October 2007
- Location: Buzios, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
The naturally occurring radionuclides radium (Ra‐226) and polonium (Po‐210) have the potential to be used for criminal acts. Analysis of international incident data contained in the Database on Nuclear Smuggling, Theft and Orphan Radiation Sources (CSTO), operated at the University of Salzburg, shows that several acts of murder and terrorism with natural radionuclides have already been carried out in Europe and Russia. Five different modes of attack (T) are possible: (1) Covert irradiation of an individual in order to deliver a high individual dose; (2) Covert irradiation of a group of persons delivering a large collective dose; (3) Contamination of food or drink; (4) Generation of radioactive aerosols or solutions; (5) Combination of Ra‐226 with conventional explosives (Dirty Bomb).
This paper assesses the risk (R) of such criminal acts in terms of: (a) Probability of terrorist motivation deploying a certain attack mode T; (b) Probability of success by the terrorists for the selected attack mode T; (c) Primary damage consequence (C) to the attacked target (activity, dose); (d) Secondary damage consequence (C′) to the attacked target (psychological and socio‐economic effects); (e) Probability that the consequences (C, C′) cannot be brought under control, resulting in a failure to manage successfully the emergency situation due to logistical and/or technical deficits in implementing adequate countermeasures. Extensive computer modelling is used to determine the potential impact of such a criminal attack on directly affected victims and on the environment.
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