A package of radioactive material capable of being used to construct a dirty bomb went missing from Texas A&M University recently.
The radioactive materials were supposed to be delivered to the university when they went missing from an unaccounted and unexplained amount of time.
An internal email sent by Christopher Meyer, an assistant vice president with the university’s Office of Safety and Security, said that the shipment was sent from the Science Engineering and Education Company in Edina, Minnesota. The latter is a firm that manufactures radioactive material for equipment and research, according to KBTX.
In a statement to the local station, a spokesperson for the university said the institution was certain that the package never made it to the school’s Radiation Safety Office.
“We obviously want to locate this package as quickly as possible because it does contain radioactive material, but we hasten to add it doesn’t present a health threat to the community provided the contents, which are secured in a box with two layers of inner containment, are not disturbed,” the statement said.
Possible weapon of terror
The university added that it had reported the missing shipment “to all appropriate federal and state regulatory agencies.”
The full statement read:
Texas A&M University has been working with Federal Express to locate a missing package that was shipped to — but we are confident was not received by — the Texas A&M Radiation Safety Office containing a radioactive source used for research purposes. We obviously want to locate this package as quickly as possible because it does contain radioactive material, but we hasten to add it doesn’t present a health threat to the community provided the contents, which are secured in a box with two layers of inner containment, are not disturbed. This sealed package, like many others, are routinely sent via Federal Express from companies that specialize in providing sensitive shipments to universities and other entities. This matter has been reported to all appropriate federal and state regulatory agencies.
Shortly after the university lost track of the package, however, it was discovered.
“Texas A&M University has located the radioactive source package that was missing. It was found in one of our secure hazardous material storage facilities,” the school said. “The package was unopened, undamaged and in its original shipping condition. The package is safe for transportation and storage and the community was never in any danger.”
Since the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials have been concerned that terrorist elements, particularly those operating in the Middle East, could obtain radioactive material on the black market in a sufficient amount to manufacture a dirty bomb, which they would then smuggle to a location in the United States and detonate.
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