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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Potential "Dirty Bomb" Ingredient Removed From NYC Hospital

Federal and New York Police Department officials last week worked together to secure and transport a small amount of cesium 137 from a city hospital to a storage site operated by the U.S. Energy Department, Newsday reported (see GSN, Jan. 14).

Cesium 137 has been identified as a potential ingredient of a radiological "dirty bomb," which would use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material in an urban center or other location.

The material used in a blood irradiation machine at the now-shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan was not believed to be at risk for acquisition by terrorists. However, authorities nonetheless chose to relocate the cesium to a secure location.

The Energy's Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration collected the material while NYPD officers guarded the operation.

"This recovery is part of NNSA's broad strategy to keep dangerous nuclear and radiological material safe and secure and protect the American people by enhancing our nation's nuclear security," NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Kenneth Baker said in a prepared statement (Anthony Destefano, Newsday, July 4).