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2006-03-02 Caribbean-Latin America
Colombians busted with 29 lbs of uranium
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Posted by Dan Darling 2006-03-02 03:48|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [2666 views since 2007-05-07]  Top

#1 Um, er, is it against the law to own Uranium? Wow guess we gotta let them go! OK see ya, have a nice day. This is a future darwin award winning nation on a global scale! God I hope our boys are on this.
Posted by 49 Pan">49 Pan  2006-03-02 03:55||   2006-03-02 03:55|| Front Page Top

#2 Not too tough to pack it with a load of coke going to New York. I wonder if it hadn't been sold...
Posted by Skidmark 2006-03-02 05:17||   2006-03-02 05:17|| Front Page Top

#3 If you haul around 29 pounds of Uranium, you're a dead man, perhaps the Cops know that it's a waste of time and effort to jail and prosecute dead men walking?
Posted by Redneck Jim 2006-03-02 08:18||   2006-03-02 08:18|| Front Page Top

#4 Is it depleted or active uranium? I suspect depleted uranium is easily -- if expensively -- obtainable.
Posted by Robert Crawford">Robert Crawford  2006-03-02 08:40||]">[]  2006-03-02 08:40|| Front Page Top

#5 It's only a matter of time before the commies in in Colombia mix it up with the porKoranimals. At least these dweebs got caught.
Posted by Shons Chath1943 2006-03-02 09:30||   2006-03-02 09:30|| Front Page Top

#6 It might have been a security deposit by somebody for a drug deal.
Posted by 3dc 2006-03-02 10:04||   2006-03-02 10:04|| Front Page Top

#7 Seems unlikely it was enriched as the shielding necessary for all involved not to die an extremely painful and horrible death would have been pretty conspicuous.

Still, it would be nice to have some samples so that its point of origin could be determined. A terse notification to the country where it was mined (and refined) might let them know just how dangerous it is to their future when it comes to releasing substantial quantities of rare earth elements onto the open market. The words, "glow-in-the-dark" and "parking lot" should figure prominently in such a missive.
Posted by Zenster 2006-03-02 11:16||   2006-03-02 11:16|| Front Page Top

#8 I'm not a phsyicist or anything... but 29 lbs sound in excess of a critical mass. So... unless it was well shielded or kept in separate masses, it wasn't significantly enriched.
Posted by Hupererong Jith3785 2006-03-02 12:30||   2006-03-02 12:30|| Front Page Top

#9 1. Uranium is a low-level emitter as is to be expected from an element with a long half-life. In the factories that make yellowcake, workers typically only need gloves and respirators to handle the material. Thus, U poses little radiological harm. It is far more dangerous as an ingested heavy metal toxin, similar to mercury or lead in its effects.

2. In all likelihood, they had natural uranium, which can be found in many places around the world. Of course, natural uranium only has 0.27% U-235 (if my memory hasn't failed me), which means that hunk of metal has 0.078 lbs of U-235. I doubt Osama was going to cut a check for that.

3. As to the comment about critical mass, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is the enrichment and the second is the geometry. The Little Boy bomb used at Hiroshima had about 140 pounds of U-235 (~80% overall enriched), which was in two different shapes that were then driven together by conventional explosives to form that critical mass. Also, historically, anyone who has been in the near vicinity of a criticality accident (like happened in Japan about 5 years ago) typically is dead in less than a day.
Posted by Dreadnought 2006-03-02 14:26||   2006-03-02 14:26|| Front Page Top

#10 Good info Dreadnaught. One minor clarification: U-235 is about 7% of natural Uranium. Depleted Uranium is about 0.3% U-235. Also the little mentioned U-234 is about .0054% of natural Uranium; that small percentage of U-234 is responsible for about half of all natural Uranium's radioactivity!
Posted by Glick Ebbaviger6701 2006-03-02 20:02||   2006-03-02 20:02|| Front Page Top

#11 Natural uranium has 0.72% U-235 and depleted uranium has 0.25-0.30% U-235. I think using depleted uranium weapons is short sighted since advanced reactor designs, such as the closed fuel cycle Integral Fast Reactor, envision fissioning 99% of the uranium.
Posted by ed 2006-03-02 20:28||   2006-03-02 20:28|| Front Page Top

#12 Not sure I follow that reasoning, ed. The depleted uranium is used because of its density. Unless there is a substitute, its usefulness means it will be produced in at least some places for this purpose.

Or did I misunderstand your point?
Posted by lotp 2006-03-02 20:33||   2006-03-02 20:33|| Front Page Top

#13 Tungsten alloys are just about as dense as uranium, though it does not have the pyrophoric (thus self sharpening) property of DU and not as quite good for armor penetration. But since most of the DU burns up while penetrating armor, that fraction can never be recovered and used for another purpose.

Proposed reactor designs can use 99.5% (vs. a small fraction of 1% currently) of all the isotopes of uranium by recycling both the plutonium and long life fission products to ultimate produce short half life products that decay to natural uranium levels in a few hundred years. So a 120mm DU penetrator is potentially worth millions in equivalent oil/gas/coal energy production.
Posted by ed 2006-03-02 21:27||   2006-03-02 21:27|| Front Page Top

#14 lotp, here is an article link for an advanced breeder reactor: Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste
And the design can also recycle used reactor fuel elements that are today in cooling ponds.
Posted by ed 2006-03-02 21:37||   2006-03-02 21:37|| Front Page Top

#15 .72%! Thanks Ed! Knew the ol' memory wasn't dredging up the right number (or at least it was the right numbers in the wrong order)
Posted by Dreadnought 2006-03-02 22:08||   2006-03-02 22:08|| Front Page Top

#16 OK so now we know it might not be enough to make a good nuke. Would it be effectiveas a dirty bomb? Say pack it with C4 and detonate it in a city?
Posted by 49 Pan">49 Pan  2006-03-02 22:23||   2006-03-02 22:23|| Front Page Top

#17 dirty bomb
No. In Desert Storm a few hundred tons of DU was fired. A 120mm sabot has about 10 pounds of DU. Of that, 7 or 8 pounds will vaporize and oxidize (much finer than an explosive can distribute). While you may not want to camp in and around the thousands of destroyed armorded vehicles (both the heavy metal toxic effects and inhaling DU dust), it's not anything you can use as a radiation weapon (media weapon, yes). Cobalt-60 is another matter.
Posted by ed 2006-03-02 22:42||   2006-03-02 22:42|| Front Page Top

23:55 Rafael
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23:51 Rafael
23:50 twobyfour
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