Radioactive Dispersal Devices
Since the 11th September, 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA there has been much speculation about the possibility of terrorists making a radioactive dispersal device or 'dirty bomb' using conventional explosives and a stolen radioactive source. Such a bomb could not cause a nuclear explosion, but could disperse radioactive material over an area up to a square kilometre or so. While this might, like the accidents described previously, cause a small number of local casualties, the overall radiation effects would be limited. The wider the material is dispersed, the more diluted it will be and the lower the doses are that people could receive. Nevertheless severe social disruption could arise. The construction of such a device would be likely to entail dangerously high radiation doses to the terrorists, but would be Possible if they were able to obtain a Source and were not concerned for their Own safety. This possibility reinforces the need for effective measures to ensure that radioactive Sources are kept securely under control until they are disposed of permanently.