ABSTRACT

Radiological Security Snapshot: Security of Radioactive Materials   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the Document: "'Numerous incidents indicate weaknesses in controls over radioactive materials that could be used in a dirty bomb.' Recent security threats have raised concerns that radioactive materials could be stolen and used in a domestic attack. For example, in April 2019, a technician was arrested after stealing three radioactive devices from his workplace in Arizona. According to a court filing, the technician intended to release the radioactive materials at a shopping mall, but local police and the FBI arrested him before he could do so. From 2010 through 2019, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported over 2,000 nuclear materials events, which included instances of lost or stolen radioactive materials, radiation overexposures, leaks of radioactive materials, and other events. Furthermore, officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which provides enhanced security to facilities with high-risk radioactive materials, told GAO [Government Accountability Office] that there is increasing interest among adversaries in using radioactive materials for making a dirty bomb. Vulnerabilities arise because NRC's security requirements do not take into account the most devastating potential effects, including billions of dollars in cleanup costs, and deaths and injuries from chaotic evacuations. In addition, weaknesses in licensing make it relatively easy for bad actors to obtain small quantities of high-risk radioactive materials, which could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Given the risks associated with these materials, which are in widespread use, it may be time to consider greater reliance on alternatives, when feasible. Previously, GAO has recommended that Congress consider this matter."

Report Number:
GAO-22-105498
Publisher:
Date:
2022-04
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
Help with citations