California Gov. Edmund G. Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein last week urged more than 60 public health and hospital radiation safety officers, law enforcement officials, emergency response officials and regulators to step up efforts to lock down and, where possible, eliminate and replace, radiological sources that could be stolen and used to build “dirty bombs.”
The leaders spoke by video to participants in a two-day Radiological Security Workshop held in Irvine, CA and hosted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, in cooperation with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health, as well as the federal Office of Radiological Security at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Department of Energy.
Participants discussed radiological risk mitigation in California, which has a large number of high-activity radiological sources, such as cesium-137, often used in blood irradiators in hospitals and other open environments and vulnerable to theft. The workshop highlighted steps that can be taken to better secure these sources and to replace them with safe and effective alternative technologies, where possible.
“We’re all concerned that these materials could be diverted into a dirty bomb,” said Brown, who is an NTI Board member. He urged officials from the government and private sector to “get greater control” of the materials.
Feinstein noted that California has the largest number of cesium devices in the country. “I know radiological materials are critical for medical treatment, and in some cases, there are no available replacements,” she said, “but where there are available alternatives, I hope you all gathered can reduce our state’s reliance on radiological materials wherever we possibly can."