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Uranium in cargo - Heathrow Airport

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Uranium in cargo - Heathrow Airport

Old 11th Jan 2023, 10:32
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Danger Uranium in cargo - Heathrow Airport

Police are investigating after metal contaminated with uranium was found at London's Heathrow Airport last month. Officers of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command responded to the security alert which was triggered on 29 December.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64231557

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Old 11th Jan 2023, 10:59
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The report in the Sun newspaper paints a different story involving an actual plot..
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 11:12
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Originally Posted by ETOPS
The report in the Sun newspaper paints a different story involving an actual plot..
Worrying if true, but part and parcel of being in the UK sadly. We are a target.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 12:26
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To paraphrase The Sun; "Pakistani-Omani-Iranian aviation Uranium contamination situation prompts ultimatum memorandum".

Says spokesman.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 12:31
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This is an intriguing sentence from the BBC report....

​​​​​​​It was found in a shipment of scrap metal, a source said.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 12:35
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I heard this on Radio 4 this morning. Transporting scrap metal by air sounds highly unlikely (unless it was all uranium and only a small quantity).
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 13:20
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Wasn't depleted used as ballast on some old 747s?
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 14:09
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In the tail of early 747's I believe. The scrap-metal story sounds unlikely, unless it was scrap precious metals to be refined/recovered in some way and there was a portion of uranium within it by mistake or on purpose.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 14:39
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Originally Posted by Consol
Wasn't depleted used as ballast on some old 747s?
i
In the counterweights of the ailerons as well. Quite a lot of it in the aircraft actually as some of the Amsterdam firefighters in the el al accident found out the hard way months later
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 14:48
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A slightly more informative news item
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...hat-it-was-for
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 15:35
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Originally Posted by Peter H
A slightly more informative news item
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...hat-it-was-for
It was bound for an Iranian business with premises in the UK.
Well, the above says something...or maybe not.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 17:03
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Originally Posted by TheEdge
Well, the above says something...or maybe not.
Sort of depends what isotope the Uranium was. If it was 'depleted' Uranium (U238 with U235 extracted) then it was pretty harmless. If it was U235 (weapon Uranium isotope) then worrying. Still, not a nice find.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 17:53
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You put a probe into a mass spectrometer and you get a very good idea what the history of this sample was. I doubt, that we ever will hear the full true story...

Last edited by EDLB; 12th Jan 2023 at 09:32.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 17:59
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher
In the counterweights of the ailerons as well. Quite a lot of it in the aircraft actually as some of the Amsterdam firefighters in the El Al accident found out the hard way months later
Reportedly around 400 kg.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 19:40
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If it was "metal bars contaminated with uranium" there is most likely an innocent explanation. Separating the uranium would be a problem for most businesses.A US facility had radiation alarms go off. Cause was a Mexican truck passing on I 25. It contained metal-framed office furniture made with steel contaminated with Cobalt 60. A disused hospital gamma ray device had been melted with the scrap and used to make steel.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciudad...ation_incident


Last edited by Maoraigh1; 11th Jan 2023 at 19:54.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 21:55
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
Reportedly around 400 kg.
and Korean 8509 at Stansted in 1999

newscientist.com/letter/mg16922755-800-what-happened-to-the-depleted-uranium
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 23:36
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Oops U-235 is spicier than U-238.

Not as exciting as when the DoE sold an entire uranium enrichment plant to a scrap metal dealer and then provided the dealer the plans to assemble it under an FOIA request. He was steadfast on his request to be appropriately compensated after he made numerous calls to raise the issue as it could have gone anywhere in the world as stainless steel scrap.
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 01:14
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Lots of radiological incidents globally (some fatal) caused by incompetent managers generally in health care settings. Cobalt isotope sources and the like not being tracked and properly decommissioned and ending up in scrap or bring 'salvaged' and ending up the same way. Quite easy to see how low level substances could end up mixed with others although scrap metal is not transported by air unless of extremely high value.
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 05:32
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Originally Posted by Consol
Lots of radiological incidents globally (some fatal) caused by incompetent managers generally in health care settings. Cobalt isotope sources and the like not being tracked and properly decommissioned and ending up in scrap or bring 'salvaged' and ending up the same way. Quite easy to see how low level substances could end up mixed with others although scrap metal is not transported by air unless of extremely high value.
They were probably looking for beta or neutron emissions, which do not define the emitter but do indicate there is radioactive material. Alpha doesn't penetrate much at all.
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Old 12th Jan 2023, 10:45
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Given the purported amounts (tiny) it does seem more likely to be contamination - there is lots of uranium all over the place, more concentrated in certain ores. Somewhere in the steelmaking chain it would be easy to incorporate radioactive material, especial if there was recycling involved and no-one checked the material being put it. As above, this has happened in the West on several occasions so you can easily imagine something untoward getting into the supply chain in Iran.

Itís also not a secret that there are radiation detectors at many airports, especially international ones, so not the first choice if you did want to move stuff like this around clandestinely.
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