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Missing radioactive material found at petrol station

Missing radioactive material found at petrol station
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By Catherine Hardy with Reuters
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Radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near the country’s southern town of Zubair. It is not clear how the material

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Radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near the country’s southern town of Zubair.

It is not clear how the material, which is owned by Swiss inspections group SGS, ended up being left in a petrol station.

Missing #radioactive material found dumped in south #Iraq, #Zubairhttps://t.co/COYo0n77G9

— Bephru (@bephru) February 21, 2016

The town is 15km southwest of the city of Basra.

Officials say the find has ended speculation that it had been acquired by extremists to be used to fabricate a weapon.

Missing radioactive material in #Iraq found #gasstation#Zubairhttps://t.co/DW9FrqaY27pic.twitter.com/hHovRLW2oX

— Trending Iraq News (@Iraqolizer) February 21, 2016

Officials think the device was stolen and then dumped when they were unable to sell it on.

“They may have heard that everyone was looking for it and decided to get it off their hands,” said Nash’at Saqban al-Maksosi, Chief Planning Officer of Basra Council.

“They may have stolen the material for use for other purposes but could not get it out of Basra and so they dumped it.”

The material was stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer. It was undamaged and there are no concerns about radiation contamination.

The authorities say the consignment went missing in November from a storage facility near Basra belonging to US oilfield services company Weatherford.

It is owned by Swiss inspections group, SGS.

Gamma rays

Iraqi media posted several pictures of the radioactive material initially missing/now found near Basra #Iraqpic.twitter.com/K7gaEQzO83

— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) February 21, 2016

The material uses gamma rays to test for flaws in components of oil and gas pipelines.

The process is called industrial gamma radiography.

The IAEA classes it as as Category 2 radioactive source.

This means if it is not managed properly, it could cause permanent injury to anyone in close proximity.

Exposure can be fatal if it extends over a period of hours or days.

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