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||Schumer Proposes Tracking Radioactive
|JUNE 17TH, 2002|
prevent terrorists from building a so-called dirty nuclear
bomb, Senator Charles Schumer is introducing a bill to require
the federal government to track all radioactive material.
Schumer wants a national inventory to trace the
movement of radioactive material is it is stored, transported,
used and disposed. His bill would also increase security
around nuclear facilities that produce and receive low-grade
radioactive materials, such as plutonium and uranium used in
hospitals, laboratories and power plants.
“We have to
tighten up,” Schumer said at a news conference in Manhattan
Sunday, “and we particularly have to tighten up the use of
these radiological materials, which are now, as I said,
available just about anywhere.”
The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission generally leaves tracking of low-grade radioactive
material, which has nearly two million sources in the United
States, to private industry. The commission receives an
average of 300 reports of small amounts of missing radioactive
materials per year, about half of which are eventually
The proposed tracking system and security
would cost about $1 billion to implement, Schumer said, adding
that the measures would prevent attacks like the one
Brooklyn-born terror suspect Jose Padilla is accused of
planning with Al Qaeda.
A “dirty bomb” is a
conventional explosive used to spread radioactive material,
not an actual nuclear reaction. The radioactive material,
likely low-grade, would not significantly raise the death toll
of an explosion, but its use could cause greater panic. The
radiation would likely slow any emergency response to the
blast area and could also render the area uninhabitable for a
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