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“Shell” companies purchase radioactive materials, prompting push for nuclear licensing reform

Defense News, By Bryant Harris, 10 Aug 22,

WASHINGTON – Late last year, government employees forged a copy of a license to buy hazardous, radioactive material. They created shell companies, then placed orders, generated invoices and paid two U.S.-based vendors.

The scheme worked. The employees successfully had the material shipped, complete with radioactive stickers on the side, then confirmed delivery.

But the workers were actually investigators from the Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, and they were testing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ability to regulate the sale and procurement of dangerous materials.

The act, and a subsequent report from the GAO, alarmed Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., who is now calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to overhaul its licensing system as a way to avoid a national security disaster.

“Anyone could open a shell company with a fraudulent license to obtain dangerous amounts of radioactive material that could be weaponized into a dirty bomb,” Torres told Defense News in an interview on Wednesday. “Disperse radioactive material in a city as densely populated as New York, and it could cause catastrophic damage.”

The commission classifies radioactive material into five categories of risk. Only categories one and two currently are subject to its independent license verification system – a loophole that Torres and the GAO fear that an individual or group could exploit to wreak havoc by building a dirty bomb that combines combines conventional explosives with category three radioactive materials.

Torres, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, is pressing the NRC to immediately expand its independent license verification system to include category three quantities of radioactive materials. He formally made the licensing overhaul request in a letter seen by Defense News on Wednesday. This request is in line with the GAO’s recommendations in what Torres called an “alarming report.”………………………

August 9, 2022 - Posted by | radiation, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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