Missing radioactive material found dumped in south Iraq

Missing radioactive material found dumped in south Iraq

BAGHDAD – Reuters
Missing radioactive material found dumped in south Iraq

A security guard walks past the Weatherford booth during the Basra International trade fair for oil and gas in Basra, Iraq in a November 25, 2010 file photo. REUTERS Photo

A “highly dangerous” radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near a petrol station in the southern town of Zubair, environment ministry spokesman Ameer Ali said on Feb. 21. 

Ali said it had not been damaged and there were no concerns about radiation from the material, the loss of which raised concerns it could be used as a weapon if acquired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

Reuters reported last week the material had been stolen in November 2015 from a storage facility belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra. 

It was not immediately clear how the material ended up in Zubair, around 15 kilometers southwest of Basra. 

“A passer-by found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special prevention radiation team and retrieved the device,” the chief of security panel in Basra provincial council Jabbar al-Saidi told Reuters. 

“After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 percent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.” 

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to a document and officials. 

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.