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April 5, 2011 / joninews

Rustavi2 may be greater public health threat than a dirty bomb

Radioactive scrap metal found in Batumi Port

Joni Simonishvili

“Isn't ALL radiation hazardous to health?  Whose experts are these – and why evacuate the port if it's NOT hazardous to health?”
Caesium-137 can only be produced by nuclear fission and the most likely source of this isotope is Chernobyl. It has a pretty long half-life (about 30+ years) so it's possible that this radioactive metal has been on a journey through Georgia – and possibly stood in railway sidings long enough for it to pose a health risk to anyone living close by or who may have handled it.

It's important to remember how vital scrap metal is to Georgia's balance of trade when you read such comments as Rustavi 2 put out, that "the experts assert is not dangerous for health". In fact, it can be lethal if it enters the body in a large enough dose, and any amount is probably not going to do you any good.

"Caesium-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and even death at high doses. It can contaminate food and water and, if ingested, gets distributed around the body, where it builds up in soft tissues, such as muscles. It has a half-life of about 30 years, meaning it takes that long for its radioactivity to fall by half. Over time, it is expelled from the body in urine."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/15/fukushima-fallout-health-risks

The Rustavi 2 report says that they've evacuated the port and closed the harbour – and at the same time say that it doesn't pose a health risk. I wonder how clean they will come about the source of this material, where it's been before it reached Batumi, and find out who may have come into direct contact with it. As you know Georgia safety standards are so low that there probably wasn't a risk analysis carried out before this shipment was moved – it will have been driven purely by profit, and you can bet that someone in a high place would have their finger in the scrap metal heap.

The public needs to know – and quickly – where this material came from, where it has been and for how long (and not just in Georgia – in case it is just being trans-shipped) and why there are no checks made to prevent this from happening. In western countries all radioactive material is tightly controlled – but here they don't identify it until it's smack in the middle of one of Georgia's two ports – which has now been shut down (and at what cost to the local/national economy?). Someone should be made responsible for that – and the buck should stop on the desk of whoever has put personal profit over public safety and national interests.

Read all about harmless to health Caesium-137 really ISN'T here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesium-137

If it was harmless why can't humans live near Chernobyl anymore? The best guest is that something else was first transported in rail cars – as dirty bomb material. Just wonder how that stuff made it to Batumi.

The staff of the Batumi port has been evacuated after the experts confirmed radiation in the scrap metal in the port. The brigades of the emergency service are working in the port, the additional groups of experts have been sent from Tbilisi to Batumi. The port has been closed and people are prohibited to enter its territory. The habor has also been close and people evacuated from the territory. The representativeives of the emergency services abstain from releasing informaiton about the radaoactove metals. which were discovered in the freight railway wagon. The type of readioactive substance is suppoed to be Cesium-137, which expects assert is not dangerious for health.

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One Comment

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  1. John Ssenabulyajn / Apr 7 2011 8:17 am

    Maybe not the source, but one source of radioactive isotopes has been old abandoned/lost RTGs – it’s like a nuclear battery that lasts for hundreds of years built by the soviets to power remote installations like light-houses. One incident is described by the IAEA in this report, page 3: http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull481/pdfs/rtg.pdf

    Although strontium was used in this model, cesium-137 is also well-suited and could have been used in such RTGs.

    But who knows what it is. Maybe transit of scrap metal from Fukushima?

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