US Officials Robbed Of Plutonium And Dirty Bomb Materials

by | Jul 17, 2018 | Headline News | 25 comments

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    This report was originally published by Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

    We wish we could say this is from The Onion but it’s a now viral story that’s but the latest representation of extreme government incompetence in handling deadly radioactive materials. Two Department of Energy security officials tasked with transporting deadly substances left plutonium in the back of their Ford Expedition, where it was promptly stolen from a Marriott parking lot in San Antonio.

    And over a year later and after what appears to be a ham-handed investigation that was prematurely shut down perhaps for fear of public embarrassment, authorities still have no clue as to the whereabouts of what the government admits are “bomb-usable materials”.

    Marriott parking lot, site of the Plutonium theft. San Antonio police said they responded to 87 thefts there in 2016 and 2017 alone. Via MySanAntonio

    An investigative report by the watchdog group, the Center for Public Integritydetails a March 2017 “sensitive mission” by two security experts from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to transport dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit lab in San Antonio back to a high-secure government facility in Idaho.

    This involved specialized equipment, which the report describes as “a plastic-covered disk of plutonium, a material that can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, and another of cesium, a highly radioactive isotope that could potentially be used in a so-called ‘dirty’ radioactive bomb.”

    The moment where the theft is recounted is worth viewing in the original report, given how unbelievable the scenario:

    But when they stopped at a Marriott hotel just off Highway 410, in a high-crime neighborhood filled with temp agencies and ranch homes, they left those sensors on the back seat of their rented Ford Expedition. When they awoke the next morning, the window had been smashed and the special valises holding these sensors and nuclear materials had vanished.

    More than a year later, state and federal officials don’t know where the plutonium — one of the most valuable and dangerous substances on earth — is. Nor has the cesium been recovered.

    Of course none of these embarrassing details were publicized by Department of Energy officials or the FBI, but by government watchdog researchers with the Center for Public Integrity, who were able to piece together the events based on obtaining local police reports which matched a blurb found in an internal Department of Energy memorandum.

    San Antonio police, the only law enforcement group to be forthcoming about the details of the case, told the report’s authors they were “dumbfounded” that the Idaho lab experts didn’t take more precautions in safeguarding the deadly substances. They “should have never left a sensitive instrument like this unattended in a vehicle,” a spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department said.

    The lab security “experts” presumably had an immense amount of taxpayer provided resources at their disposal to safeguard the substances, according to the report:

    The personnel from Idaho National Laboratory whose gear was stolen were part of the Off-Site Radioactive Source Recovery Program based at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, with an annual budget of about $17 million. Overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the program has scooped up more than 38,000 bits of radioactive material loaned to research centers, hospitals and academic institutions since 1999 — averaging 70 such missions a year. No state has returned more borrowed nuclear materials than Texas, where the recovery program has collected 8,566 items.

    But apparently they preferred the security of their rented Ford Expedition to safeguard the most valuable and dangerous substances on earth.

    Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Department of Energy: “The image on the left depicts plutonium samples, comparable in size to one that’s been missing from Idaho State University for at least 14 years, beside a U.S. quarter. On the right, a Ludlum 3030 radiation meter like the one shown here was stolen from Idaho National Laboratory employees along with other detectors and samples of plutonium and cesium in March 2017.” Via The Center For Public Integrity

    When the Idaho lab — one of the many locations across the US where government and military nuclear material is stockpiled — was questioned by investigating San Antonio police about how much plutonium and cesium went missing, a spokesperson responded that “it wasn’t an important or dangerous amount”. And further, no official connected with the incident has indicated just what quantities were actually stolen, but merely downplayed it, saying “there is little or no danger from these sources being in the public domain,” according to the Idaho lab spokesperson.

    And it appears that FBI joint terrorism taskforce investigators contacted by local detectives may not have ever bothered to show up at the scene of the crime, as San Antonio police spokesman “Ortiz said the department called an FBI liaison to a joint terrorism taskforce, who advised them to take as many fingerprints in the car as possible. But detectives found no useable prints, no worthwhile surveillance video of the crime, and no witnesses. A check of local pawn shops — to see if someone had tried to sell the sensors — turned up nothing.”

    The police spokesman further said they were told to close the investigation to avoid “chasing a ghost” as the Idaho National Laboratory deemed the missing quantities of material insignificant.

    But perhaps most shocking (or not shocking at all, considering this is federal bureaucracy at work) is that it doesn’t appear there were any negative repercussions for the two security officials responsible for the loss:

    Lab documents state that a month after the incident, one of the specialists charged with safeguarding the equipment in San Antonio was given a “Vision Award” by her colleagues. “Their achievements, and those of their colleagues at the laboratory, are the reasons our fellow citizens look to INL to resolve the nation’s big energy and security challenges,” Mark Peters, the lab director, said in an April 21, 2017, news release.

    The specific lab contractor that oversaw the botched San Antonio transfer, Battelle Energy Alliance LLC, was also given formal recognition by the Energy Department, which called their overall performance “excellent”. The recognition resulted in increase in bonuses and the extension of their government contract for another 5 years.

    Unsurprisingly, similar incidents involving missing radioactive material from government stockpiles or loss during transfer have been on the rise in recent years, though perhaps few as absurd as the San Antonio incident.

    The Energy Department’s inspector general concluded in 2009 – the most recent public accounting – that at least a pound of plutonium and 45 pounds of highly-enriched uranium that had gone missing in the prior half-decade (since 2004) “were significant” and could be used by terrorists. The inspector general’s report stated, “Considering the potential health risks associated with these materials and the potential for misuse should they fall into the wrong hands, the quantities written off were significant.”

    The 2009 report also harshly criticized the Energy Department for neglecting prior internal calls to correct poor accounting procedures which reportedly resulted in other loss incidents. The department still “may be unable to detect lost or stolen material” the inspector general said in its report — something now 100% confirmed in the San Antonio incident.

    And who knows how many other incidents have occurred wherein plutonium, uranium, or other radioactive materials were “lost” or “stolen” or “misplaced” that the public will never find out about?


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      1. People that are so grossly incompetent need to be jailed – if for nothing else stupidity. However, these are government empoyees – They may get a letter of repremand for thier personel folder.

        • They were probably in on the theft. I say look for HRC and Putin.


        • like the clit-ons, nothing will happen 2 them. they’s be gub-mint emplo-ees.

        • I doubt this was incompetence. This sort of substance would never have been left in a unsecured vehicle overnight. Besides how would the thieves know it was in the car unless someone tipped them off. It had to be a set-up,and the security people tasked with getting it to their destination were most likely involved.

      2. I’m surprised that this was released to the media at all.

        • Brian, your comment suggests to me that the theft is probably much worse than reported…..

      3. Noone is ever held accountable or indicted from this inept governments blunders…No wonder we are in the shape we are in.

      4. Don’t you mean they let the bad guys have some so they could kill us with the weapons they can produce from this material?

      5. Cover story for a false flag being put in play.

        • ^^^^^^^^^^^^^


        • Exactly CB
          So 2 security people picked up the goods then went to their hotel to leave the next morning,WOW tipped off I think or set up FF
          Also leaving it In the vehicle? Why not take it up to your room with you!
          It looks like it, It smells like it, and tastes like it,

      6. CB &Kevin2:


        “Cover story for a false flag…”

        Just like the Titanic sinking and the Twin Towers, both were insurance scams besides having much more important objectives, creating the Federal Reserve Bank and income tax and; patriot act and wars.


      7. “When they awoke the next morning, the window had been smashed and the special valises holding these sensors and nuclear materials had vanished.”

        In my experience of retrieving ordinary kinds of things, thieves will usually be concerned with convenience and sport, not with appraisals. Stolen goods are typically left, in the immediate area.

        If not, I would question whether the person had been followed and specifically profiled.

      8. I can almost bet they are in the landfill. I have handled these very things and, trust me when I say the you need a LOT more Plutonium to make a bomb. PU239 is an Alpha emitter. You don’t want to eat it, but it wont harm you if you had it among quarters in your pocket. Now the Cesium is different story. They didn’t say it’s atomic number, but I’m betting 137. Both are used to calibrate radiation meters. The Cesium could cause harm, but since no one seems to have gone the hospital with radiation sickness, it isn’t around people much. Probably tried to pawn it or just did it for kicks and threw it away.

        • There was recently some outrage porn, about materials changing hands.

          If you read the attached article (elsewhere, other story) it was actually in such low concentration that it could only be used for calibration.

          If you separate what is objective vs. subjective, from these news reports, they would hardly need encryption. They could just say whatever, over over msm sources, leaving the busy bodies at eachother’s throats, with their theatrics.

          • If they take a little at a time, people would think it couldn’t be used for bombs. But this has happened many times going back decades. Wouldn’t you think they would have enough at this point for many bombs?

      9. Probably went on ebay a few days after it disappeared. Calibration sources are not something to worry about. The paperwork to get one is mostly bureaucratic, not because it is that dangerous.

      10. Sounds like they may have been followed. Remember all those propane tanks that were stolen I beleive in Pennsylvania ? Along with explosives and cord stolen from a construction site? One day we are going to be woken up with a big bang and part of a city missing.

      11. What has concerned me in the last decade are all of the stolen Mexican trucks with radioactive material. Look that up this week to see how much and how often that has happened. It’s alarming.

        Then consider how easily extremists could acquire this.

        You really should go to youtube and look up the BBC dirty bomb docudrama. It is chilling because the end result is economic collapse if it occurs in an urban area known as an global economic center of any size. The entire region is then innundated and essentially forever contaminated at the immediate costs of hundreds of billions but ultimately trillions of dollars.

        Such an event would cascade and collapse global markets.

      12. See the 2004 BBC film Dirty War. I would bet every member of this community would gain by watching it especially first responders and veterans.

        It very realistically unfolds as transferred material is smuggled into London using orchestrated cells of Wahabi terrorists. It is largely unknown in the USA and so underrated. I would bet every firefighter would find it eye opening.

      13. Again ???? They always send some douche-bags out on jobs like this.

        Why would anyone want three little disks with all of the radioactive material flowing freely from Fukishima in massive quantities by the second into the oceans—free for the scooping.

      14. Well, no one just robs you of Plutonium (enriched uranium); you either give it away, and or sell it…regardless, you have it in your possession and should by all means (gov’t or not) be considered a potential terrorist. If you “lose” something like that, then we hunt for it meanwhile, we put the “man with the bag” in prison for “SERIOUS” reckless endangerment. It should carry a mandatory 5 year or more sentence.


      16. I know where the missing 45 pounds of highly-enriched uranium went, Israel! Half of our elected officials have dual citizenship. No one is allowed to have dual citizenship and run four office from any other country, why is that? Think people we have long been infiltrated, what about the Israeli agents arrested at 9/11 for celebrating the attack and filming it. This is by design! Israel is a rich country, why are billions of our tax dollars going there every year? They weaseled into our government and are actively stealing from us!

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