NEWS

Hospital Irradiation Machines a Nuclear Security Risk

By Matthew Harwood

A Pentagon panel recommends the nation rid itself of more than 1,000 irradiation machines used by hospitals and other industries due to the nuclear risk they pose, reports the Associated Press.

An advisory group of retired military and CIA officials and defense industry experts says terrorists could use the radioactive materials in them to make so called "dirty" bombs. The irradiators contain Cesium -137, one of the most dangerous and long-lasting radioactive materials in existence.

Panel documents obtained by The Associated Press conclude any one of the devices "could shut down 25-square kilometers, anywhere in the United States, for 40-plus years."

To replace all the machines active in the United States would cost somewhere in the ballpark of $200 million over five years. Expensive, yes, but the panel warns the machines could allow terrorists to get their hands on the "most accessible source of dangerous radioactive material inside the United States."

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