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Missing radioactive material found in south Iraq: Officials

21 February 2016 20:25



“Highly dangerous” radioactive material that had gone missing in Iraq last year has been found dumped near a petrol station in the country’s south, officials say.

The chief of the security panel in Basra provincial council, Jabbar al-Saidi, said on Sunday that the material was found by a passer-by in the southern town of Zubair, which is located around 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Basra.

He said there were no concerns about radiation from the material.

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

Meanwhile, Ameer Ali, Iraqi’s Environment Ministry spokesman, also confirmed that the material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, was undamaged.

However, it was not immediately clear how the material ended up in Zubair.

The discovery has ended speculation that the material was acquired by the Takfiri Daesh militant group.

Iraqi members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) stand at the Habbaniyah camp, on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi, February 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The material, used to test oil pipes, had gone missing from a storage facility near the southern Iraqi city of Basra. It reportedly contained up to ten grams of Iridium-192 capsules. It was part of a device used to test welded portions of pipes for leaks or other weaknesses.

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If not managed properly, it could be fatal to those exposed to it for a period of hours to days.

Gruesome violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh launched an offensive in June 2014, and took control of portions of Iraqi territory. The Iraqi army and fighters from Popular Mobilization Units are engaged in joint military operations to win back regions overrun by the terrorists.

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