Iraq’s environment ministry’s spokesperson Ameer Ali said on Sunday that the “highly dangerous” radioactive material which went missing since last November has been found in the southern town of Zubair. The discovery has ended the speculations that it may have landed with the Islamic States and could be used as a weapon.
According to the officials, the material which was stored in a case the size of a laptop is undamaged and there were no concerns of radiation from it. The radioactive material called Iridium 192 was stolen from Weatherford WFT.N, a US-based storage facility in Basra in November last year, the Reuters reported.
However, there is still uncertainty on how the device, which was owned by Swiss inspections group SGS based in Istanbul, Turkey, ended up in Zubair from Basra.
The NBC News reported that the material, which has been classified as Category 2 “radioactive” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is used to test flaws in materials in gas or oil pipelines. The classification of the material has been based on its capacity to cause permanent injury or even fatal to anybody within a close proximity with it.
It was earlier thought that the radioactive material may have fallen in the hands of the ISIS who could combine it with other types of explosives to make “dirty bombs,” which could contaminate a region with radiation.
“A passerby found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special radiation prevention team and retrieved the device,” the Reuters quoted the chief of the security panel within Basra provincial council, Jabbar al-Saidi, as saying. “After initial checking, I can confirm the device is intact 100 percent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.”
A security official associated closely with the investigations said that, immediately after the material was stolen it was learnt that it has been kept in Zubair and measures were taken to ensure that it doesn’t go outside the country.
“After failing to take it out of the town, the perpetrators decided to dump it,” the security official said. “I assure you it is only a matter of time before we arrest those who stole the radioactive device.”