Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

It is currently Oct 23, 2017 3:43 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Dec 11, 2014 7:30 am 
Offline

Joined: Nov 14, 2013 7:47 pm
Posts: 569
Location: Iowa, USA
I saw several references in the news to people attempting to steal and/or transport Uranium-238 with the implied intent to create a dirty bomb. Here's an example of such a news article.
http://news.yahoo.com/moldova-detains-seven-suspected-uranium-smuggling-174606974.html
Quote:
CHISINAU (Reuters) - Police in Moldova said on Tuesday they had detained seven people suspected of smuggling radioactive Uranium-238 on a train from Russia, a substance they said could have been used to make a "dirty bomb".


This does not add up for me. U-238 has a VERY long half-life, is an alpha emitter, and has very low biological uptake. Using U-238 to make a dirty bomb sounds like a very poor choice of material. This is such a bad idea that U-238 is sought to make radiation shielding from other radioactive material. I could argue that spreading around U-238 would actually DECREASE the radiation dose a person would normally get.

I won't downplay the dangers of spreading around U-238 completely, it is still a heavy metal that is known to be poisonous. Exposure to uranium particles in the air could increase risks of cancers, birth defects, and illness due to suppressed immune response. These same effects could also be achieved by using any of a number of heavy metals, like lead, mercury, cadmium, or beryllium.

What do you think? Is U-238 a real threat as a component of a dirty bomb?

_________________
Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Dec 11, 2014 7:36 am 
Offline

Joined: Jan 29, 2014 4:05 am
Posts: 265
Location: Vitoria-ES-Brazil
Kurt Sellner wrote:
I saw several references in the news to people attempting to steal and/or transport Uranium-238 with the implied intent to create a dirty bomb. Here's an example of such a news article.
http://news.yahoo.com/moldova-detains-seven-suspected-uranium-smuggling-174606974.html
Quote:
CHISINAU (Reuters) - Police in Moldova said on Tuesday they had detained seven people suspected of smuggling radioactive Uranium-238 on a train from Russia, a substance they said could have been used to make a "dirty bomb".


This does not add up for me. U-238 has a VERY long half-life, is an alpha emitter, and has very low biological uptake. Using U-238 to make a dirty bomb sounds like a very poor choice of material. This is such a bad idea that U-238 is sought to make radiation shielding from other radioactive material. I could argue that spreading around U-238 would actually DECREASE the radiation dose a person would normally get.

I won't downplay the dangers of spreading around U-238 completely, it is still a heavy metal that is known to be poisonous. Exposure to uranium particles in the air could increase risks of cancers, birth defects, and illness due to suppressed immune response. These same effects could also be achieved by using any of a number of heavy metals, like lead, mercury, cadmium, or beryllium.

What do you think? Is U-238 a real threat as a component of a dirty bomb?


U-238 is far more dangerous for its toxicity than for its radioactivity. Even if eaten, U-238 alpha emission is very low. I think its chemical toxicity will be at least a thousand times more dangerous than its radioactivity (to be conservative).
But you would need to ingest U-238, which would need to be dissolved in water first.
That statement sounds like a very bad joke or just some one who has no idea what he's talking about...
Watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2PxY-wOrI8

The statement about the danger of a Dixie cup of U-238 is really horrible. The dangers of not teaching our kids about scientific facts properly.

_________________
Looking for companies working to change the world.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Dec 11, 2014 9:27 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3306
Location: Alabama
Kurt Sellner wrote:
Is U-238 a real threat as a component of a dirty bomb?


No. Not at all.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Dec 11, 2014 10:37 am 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5058
U238 has seen much use as combined military grade armor piercing/incendiary rounds. It is quite dangerous in this application, though neither from toxicity nor radioactivity. Exploding pyrophoric depleted uranium shrapnel filling up your vehicle at supersonic speeds, is quite unsafe, really.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group