"Dirty Bombs" seem to be popular with the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt being hyped by the media and the Government. e.g. the BBC's fictional drama which showed the ill preparadness of the UK's emergency services to deal with even a small Radiological contamination attack, the recent emergency services exercises in Scotland and Newscastle which showed the same for real, and Home Secretary David Blunkett's mixed messages on the likelyhood of such an attack, and the dubious "News of the World" entrapment scam involving mythical "radioactive red mercury" have all been in the news recently.
In an almost exact parallel with the dreadful Osmium Tetroxide "poison gas" threat to the Tube, a US publication is running a "story" which was supposedly leaked to them by US Government Officials about a current terrorism case in the United Kingdom, details of which have not been released by the UK authorities, presumably due to some unfashionable concepts like "the right to a fair trial".
Is this "leak" actually from the UK Government, or have the Americans
just made yet another "intelligence background briefing" cock up, or is it actually Al Quaeda sympathisers or other people with a vested interest in hyping up and exaggerating the "dirty bomb" threat to the UK who are behind these "reports now circulating" ?
Reuters are reporting that "UK Terror Suspects Were Building Dirty Bomb - Time"
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British terror suspects arrested in August were trying to construct a dirty bomb and planned to attack targets in London, including the Heathrow Express airport rail line, Time magazine reported.
Senior U.S. law-enforcement officials told Time that according to reports now circulating, the arrests turned up a cache of household smoke detectors that the British suspect the group wanted to cannibalize for their minute quantities of americium-241, a man-made radioactive chemical.
While some officials said it was extremely unlikely enough americium could be harvested from smoke detectors to create a device strong enough to kill people or create radiation sickness, others argued that releasing even a small amount of radioactive material into a crowded stadium or subway station could trigger sensitive radiation sensors, incite panic and cause long-lasting contamination"
Getting information on the basic properties of chemical elements is incredibly easy - this information has been online since before any News or Government Departments have been, as it is exactly what the World Wide Web was invented for by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN. physics research centre.
"Americium is a silvery metal, which tarnishes slowly in air and is soluble in acid. Its atomic number is 95. Its most stable isotope, Am-243, has a half-life of over 7500 years, although Am-241, with a half-life of 432 years, was the first isotope to be isolated.
Americium oxide, AmO2, was first offered for sale by the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1962 and the price of US$ 1500 per gram has remained virtually unchanged since. One gram of americium oxide provides enough active material for more than 5000 household smoke detectors."
So how many domestic smoke detectors are required to produce a "dirty bomb" ?
"Even swallowing the radioactive material from a smoke detector would not lead to significant internal absorption of Am-241, since the dioxide is insoluble. It will pass through the digestive tract, without delivering a significant radiation dose."
In other words this is even less of a real threat than the fictional "Osmium Tetroxide gas" or the alleged ricin plots (where no detectable amounts of ricin could be analysed) in the UK and even in France.
Where exactly is this vast network of "sensitive radiation detectors" which could be spoofed by the release of a tiny amount of Americium, and which would be fooled into causing mass panic ? It does not actually exist.
The Government have not spent money on Civil Defence for many years, and the few radiation detectors out there are not designed to protect the general public, only certain VIP locations.