IAEA: Balance sheet: Radiation material is often stolen or lost

IAEA: Balance sheet: Radiation material is often stolen or lost

In total, more than 4,200 incidents are known in which radiant substances fell into the wrong hands. Radioactive material was also lost in 2023. What role does crime play in this?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is calling for better protection when transporting radioactive material. Last year, 31 countries reported a total of 168 cases in which radiant substances were stolen, lost or otherwise fell into the wrong hands.

This emerges from figures that the IAEA published at the beginning of a nuclear security conference in Vienna. This corresponds to the long-term average. Since records began in 1993, there have been a total of more than 4,200 incidents.

Little crime

According to the IAEA, more than half of all thefts occur during the transport of radioactive material. These often involve contaminated metal waste, technical devices equipped with radiation sources or medical goods. “Nuclear material and other radioactive materials remain vulnerable to safety risks during transport,” warned Elena Buglova, head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Safety Division.

According to the IAEA, crime is only very rarely clearly involved when such health-endangering material disappears. Last year only six incidents were linked to illegal trafficking or criminal intent. In most other cases, radioactive materials were disposed of or transported without appropriate authorization, for example.

In recent years, the IAEA has recorded only a handful of criminal incidents at a time, while the number of non-criminal cases has increased since the early 2000s.

Source: Stern

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