Russian man kept 'bomb' plutonium. This is worrying.
A former Russian nuclear scientist has reportedly handed over to police eight containers of weapons-grade plutonium he had stored at home for eight years. The 400g (14oz) of plutonium-238 - a highly radioactive compound that could be used in a "dirty bomb" - came from a disused laboratory in Siberia. Former employee Leonid Grigorov says he removed it for safekeeping after the lab was looted, Russian media reports. He may face criminal proceedings, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency says. Counter-terrorism experts have repeatedly warned that radioactive material from decrepit Soviet-era installations could fall into the hands of militants.
Mr Grigorov is quoted as saying he wrote several letters to his former bosses warning them of the risk posed by radioactive material left in the laboratory in Zmeinogorsk, which was abandoned and looted after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. When his letters failed to elicit a response, Mr Grigorov says he was obliged to remove the material himself "to prevent anything bad from happening." He says he took the plutonium from the garage where he had been storing it to the local police in response to a newspaper advertisement announcing a cash reward for surrendering weapons. Zmeinogorsk police are quoted as saying Mr Grigorov was morally right to have hidden the hazardous material but he may nonetheless face criminal charges.
I'm glad the scientist had a conscience and wanted to keep the plutonium safe, but what could have happened here, and what may have happened at other facilities is worrying. Is anyone tracking plutonium? This is dangerous stuff!