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Three mini-containers containing radioactive substance missing in Georgia

Three mini-containers containing radioactive materials are missing from a Georgian military base, officials confirmed Monday. The containers of Cesium-137 disappeared in December from the Vaziani military base in this former Soviet republic, said military prosecutor Mamuk Tsaav. Authorities don’t know on what day the materials disappeared, so they have been unable to determine who was on guard duty at the time. “Therefore there isn’t a ring of suspects,” Tsaav said. Georgian officials did not say how much of the material was stolen or whether it was high-grade. Cesium-137 has a number of industrial and medical applications. It is often cited as one of the most likely substances that could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb,” in which a conventional explosive device spreads radioactive material. Soso Kakushadze, head of the radiation security department of the Georgian Environment Ministry, said his department only found about the theft on Monday, but immediately sent experts to the site. “But they were not allowed on the base,” Kakushadze said. It was not immediately clear why they were barred. Kakushadze said the containers, which were part of a set of four, held calibrated instruments fueled by cesium. The instruments were used to measure local radiation levels. According to Tsaav, the military personnel on the base never got within 15 meters (50 feet) of the containers. Full Story

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