Nuclear Trafficking 2020
CNS GLOBAL INCIDENTS AND TRAFFICKING DATABASE /// Learn more at https://www.nti.org/trafficking
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What is it?
The only free, public, open-source database of its kind
Tracks incidents of nuclear and other radioactive materials outside regulatory control
1,205 total incidents
167 new 2019 incidents
Materials can be used to harm others
Two 2019 cases point to ongoing intent and capabilities of malicious actors
Why does it matter?
Bryant Riyanto Budi, Source: www.wbtv.com
Jared Trent Atkins, Source: www.maricopapublicrecords.com
Bryant Riyanto Budi, 78 months in prison for “attempted possession of radioactive material with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to another person”
Budi tried to buy polonium-210 from an undercover FBI agent for an assassination attempt
Jared Trent Atkins stabbed a convenience store clerk in Arizona before stealing three radiographic exposure devices
Devices contained selenium-75, iridium-192, and cobalt-60, the latter two of which are of principal concern for RDDs
4 incidents involving nuclear material in 2019, none of sufficient quantity or isotopic composition for an improvised nuclear device
Many incidents involving material suitable for use in a radioactive dispersal device (RDD)
Isotopes of Principal RDD Concern
IAEA categorizes radioactive materials on a scale of 1 (most dangerous to human health) to 5 (least dangerous)
zero Category 1 incidents,
six Category 2 incidents
Majority of incidents Categories 4 and 5, often lumped together given their lower levels of danger to human health and safety
How dangerous is the material?
Account for 83% of 2019 incidents.
KEY FINDING #1
Variable reporting transparency yields variable, low transparency results
Only 6 countries perform regular, transparent incident reporting
Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, United States
Which countries report publicly?
Charting the six publicly reporting countries along with all non-public reporting countries
Variable reporting transparency yields variable, low transparency, results
Most other governments do not publicly and transparently report incidents, meaning incident data is only available through media sources
France and Germany’s use of nuclear and other radioactive materials is comparable, but because the German government does not routinely report incidents its numbers are artificially much lower
Which countries do not report publicly?
KEY FINDING #2
Transportation Creates Greatest Vulnerabilities
Nuclear and other radioactive materials are most vulnerable during transport
52% of 2019 incidents occurred while the material was in transport or a stationary vehicle
MATERIALS IN TRANSIT
Employees of a healthcare company were carjacked while transporting two Cat. 3 radioactive sources
A civil engineer left a Cat. 4 radiological device in a running car while stopping at his house
A thief stole the car and later abandoned it, but kept the device
One of most prevalent incident types in database
An unsecured Cat. 2 radiography camera fell from an open pickup bed
The camera was found, but many similar incidents end in unrecovered losses
THE USUAL SUSPECT
KEY FINDING #3
Human Failure is a Security Risk
Each year, many incidents occur at least in part due to “human failure”
“Human failure” refers to a lack of reasonable care or attention to maintaining control over nuclear and other radioactive materials, i.e. loss, misrouting, and delivery failure
WHAT IS HUMAN FAILURE?
A radiography camera operator was arrested for DUI
Police impounded the vehicle and device, leaving the keys inside
Device was unattended and at risk of loss/theft for 11 hours
DUI: DRIVING UNDER RADIATION
Safety Stacy says ‘no’ to adult beverages while responsible for radioactive material
Radioactive Ray has ‘one for the road’ while transporting radioactive material
A locked moisture density gauge was stolen from an open pickup bed overnight
This type of incident occurs almost weekly
LEFT OUT IN THE COLD
Safety Stacy stores the portable gauges inside a locked facility or other permanent structure overnight
Radioactive Ray leaves radioactive material vulnerable to thieves in his vehicle
KEY FINDING #4
Viable Alternative Technologies Exist
Non-isotopic alternatives to radioactive sources
Cesium-137 blood irradiators can be replaced with X-ray or other substitutes
Cobalt-60 teletherapy machines can be replaced with linear accelerators (LINACs)
WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES?
Removal of Cesium-137 Blood Irradiator from Georgetown University Hospital, 2017
VARIOUS GOVERNMENTS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS WORK TO ENCOURAGE ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES
Several countries have converted to non-isotopic technologies per Nuclear Security Summit pledges
U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Radiological Security spearheads material replacement efforts
International organization and
non-governmental efforts (graphic: WINS/NTI)
IAEA assists low- and middle-income countries with alternative technology adoption
The World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) works with industry to support material replacement initiatives
NTI has partnered with cities and universities to replace cesium blood irradiators with less dangerous alternatives
KEY FINDING #5
Public Information About Incidents is Often Inaccurate
What kinds of inaccuracies show up in news stories?
Past versions of the CNS Global Incidents and Trafficking Report are linked to the right.
These contain detailed breakdowns of the data, trend analyses, key findings, and policy recommendations.
2015 Report Graphics
2016 Report Graphics
2017 Report Graphics