Thursday, November 30, 2006

12 sites in U.K. show radioactive traces

This story just gets bigger and bigger. Dirty bombs? Worry about this stuff if you need something to fret over.
Traces of radiation have been found at a dozen sites in Britain and five jets were being investigated for possible contamination as authorities widened their investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy, the country's top law enforcement official told Parliament on Thursday.

A coroner formally opened an inquest into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, who died on Nov. 23 after falling ill more than three weeks earlier. It was quickly adjourned so police could continue their investigation, but three pathologists were expected to participate in an autopsy Friday at Royal London Hospital.

High doses of polonium-210 — a rare radioactive element usually made in specialized nuclear facilities — were found in Litvinenko's body after his death. Investigators are now checking places visited by the former KGB agent and others who had contact with him in the weeks before he fell ill on Nov. 1.

Home Secretary John Reid told Parliament that "around 24 venues" have been or are being monitored as part of the investigation, and that experts had confirmed traces of radioactive contamination at "around 12 of these venues." He did not say whether the radioactivity found at the sites was polonium-210.

Reid told lawmakers that officials believed the risk to public health to be low. He said 1,700 calls had been made to the National Health Service, and 69 people were referred to the Health Protection Agency. Of those, 18 who may have been exposed to polonium-210 have been referred to specialist clinics, but all urine tests so far have been negative, he said.

BA (British Airways) has now found traces of radioactive materials on 6 airplanes [sorry, but lost link]. At first it was 2 aircraft, then 3 and now 6. But nothing I've seen identifies the radioactive traces as polonium-210...for now.


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