first note -- soil testers use radio isotopes for moisture testing -- a vital agricultural test , so they are actually peacefull , admittedly
military engineers use them too . but only to test soils to determine what the maximum ground pressure they will support safely .
IMHO this "story" is hyperbolic scare mongering of the worst kind .
no element of the story makes any sense what so ever , for example :
The lorry set off from Kent on its way to Tehran but was stopped by officials at a checkpoint on Bulgaria's northernborder with Romania after a
scanner indicated radiation levels 200 times above normal
do bulgarian customs officials and border guards check manifests and hazchem warning plates ? , because :
"We also alerted customs officials about the goods we were transporting before they left the UK and the truck carried all the appropriate warning
symbols to alert officials and the emergency services of what it was carrying."
claims of " 200 times normal " is a totally meaningless statement , 200 times WHAT
also , it beats me how a dirty bomb could be made from salvaged soil tester isotope units
as according to humboldt catalogue
, one of the premier manufactures of his kind of equipment .
portable soil testers contain a radioisotope sorce of :
Radioactive Material Chemical/Physical Form Maximum Amount
Cesium-137 Sealed Source
Not to exceed 11
millicuries per source
Americium-241:Be Sealed Source
Not to exceed 44
millicuries per source
those humbold sealed units could not be realistically salvaged to produce a bomb -- a dirty handgrenade maybe
from a seperate source , discussing a similiar type of metre [ used in asphalt testing ] these things are quite safe
The sources of radioactive material – eight millicuries of Cesium 137 and 44 millicuries of Americium 241 – are sealed in stainless steel
capsules. The gauge poses no immediate health or safety threat, unless it is mishandled or broken open. If the gauge is found, do not touch or move
all literature on thier use lists the main saftey precaution as " stand 5 feet from the unit while it is in operation " and that is advice for
oparators conducting upto 30 tests / day -- 5 days a week
the output of these radio isotope sources [ 44 milicuries ] is really miniscule for example an agressive radioherapy treatment for some cancers can
involve does upto 200 millicuries
Sodium Iodide I 131 is taken by mouth as a capsule or a solution. The usual dose for treating thyroid cancer is 30-200 millicuries,
admittedly , this is slightly misleading -- as 1/2 lifes of isotopes used in medical treatments are very short .
but the pellets used in these testers are TINY and contain only miniscule slivers of radioactive material
properly stored in " safe mode " and secured in thier correct cases -- soil testers would not be detectable on hand held testers used at a bulgarian
border post -- the story stinks of hype and scare mongering