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Summary of Malicious Uses

Alexander Litvinenko fell ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting in London with former KGB contacts and died three weeks later. It was determined that he had been poisoned with polonium 210. (Photo Source: PA)
Alexander Litvinenko fell ill shortly after drinking tea during a meeting in London with former KGB contacts and died three weeks later. It was determined that he had been poisoned with polonium 210. (Photo Source: PA) 

Cases of Nefarious Uses:

  • United States 1972: In Texas, a father attempts to harm or kill his 13 year old son with Cs-137 (cesium)  pellets.  He had obtained the pellets from well longing sources, which he had a license to use for work.  Over a seven month period, the father exposed the child to the pellets numerous times.  He hid the pellets in a pair of headphones, a pillow, a cushion, and even placed them directly on the child while he slept.  The irradiation resulted in castration and the child required several operations including skin grafts. The case was reported to law enforcement and the father was eventually apprehended by the FBI in 1981
  • United States 1979: In North Carolina, an employee of a GE subcontractor threatened to disperse 2 five gallon containers of UO2.  The employee sent a letter containing a sample of UO2 and a demand for $100,000 to the manger of a GE facility.  The material was recovered, and the employee was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
  • France 1979: In La Hague, a man attempted to kill his employer by placing radioactive graphite fuel plugs underneath a seat in his car.  The employer absorbed a 25 rad dose to his spinal bone marrow and a 400 rad dose to his testes.  The perpetrator was fined $1,000 and served 9 months in prison.
  • United States 1980s: In Pennsylvania, a women attempted a self-inflicted abortion using a medical x-ray unit.
  • Bulgaria 1992: Journalists are suspected of placing 0.02 g of Pu (Plutonium) buttons in a Sofia hotel room to create fictitious headlines.
  • Siberia 1993: A man attempted to kill his mother-in-law by placing stolen radioactive element in basement.
  • Russia 1993:  A radioactive substance was placed in the director of a packing company's chair. Over the course of several weeks the director contracted radiation sickness and died.
  • Russia 1995: Chechen rebels place a 32 kg package containing a Cs-137 source in a Moscow park to demonstrate the organization's capabilities.  The source came from a piece of hospital equipment stolen in a raid. The rebels informed a local news crew of the location of the source.
  • United States 1996: In New York, a plot was disrupted that involved using radioactive materials to kill Republican leadership.
  • United States 1999: In California, a lab technician spread Ph-32 (Phosphorous) on a co-worker's chair because the technician believed the co-worker had tried to poison him. The technician was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
  • Japan 2000: A concerned citizen sent letters with thorium to government
    offices.  His intent was to demonstrate the vulnerability to illicit uranium smuggling by North Korea.
  • Japan 2000: A Japan Tobacco Inc. researcher scattered I-125 (iodine) at a
    subway ticket gate in Osaka.
  • China 2002: A nuclear scientist placed Ir-192 (iridium) pellets above the ceiling tiles of an office in attempt to kill a business rival. The rival and several members of his staff reported experiencing memory loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, vomiting and bleeding gums.  The scientist received a suspended death sentence.
  • United Kingdom 2006: Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of the Russian government, was poisoned with Po-210 (polonium).  It is suspected that Litvinenko was poisoned by two Russians he met with at a bar in London. He became sick and was admitted to a hospital a few hours later.  Litvinenko died three weeks later from the poisoning.



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