Surely only a lunatic would nick a canister with the radiation symbol on it?
Radioactive Material Stolen From Van
Police issue an urgent appeal after a container holding highly radioactive Iridium 192 is taken from a vehicle in Lancashire.
1:27pm UK, Monday 18 February 2013
A container of Iridium 192 has been stolen from a van.
Police have appealed to the public for help after a canister containing a small amount of radioactive material was stolen from a van over the weekend.
The container was taken from the vehicle in Bacup, Lancashire.
Officers were alerted to the theft in the early hours of Monday after the van driver discovered the material was missing.
The Peugeot Panel Van had been parked in New Line, to the south of Bacup.
The stolen canister is in a yellow case which is one foot long and said to be fairly heavy.
Chief Inspector Russ Procter from Burnley Police said: "It is important that this material is located as soon as possible.
"I would ask the public, especially in the Rossendale area, to keep an eye out for this canister and if they locate it then to call the police who will come and deal with it.
"I would also appeal direct to the people who have stolen this. They may have no idea what it is that they have in their possession or they may have discarded it somewhere. If that is the case then I would ask them to contact us or call Crimestoppers anonymously."
The Health Protection Agency is urging anyone coming in contact with the cylinder to leave it where it is and alert the police.
A spokesperson for the HPA said: "The radioactive material, believed to be Iridium 192, will not pose a risk to the public if it remains contained in its heavy lead container marked with the radiation trefoil.
"However, if the material is outside of its protection packaging, anyone who has come into prolonged physical contact, such as keeping it in a pocket, should seek medical assistance.
"If you see this package you should immediately inform the police, do not touch it and keep away."
Iridium 192 is a radioactive isotope of Iridium with a half-life of 73 days.
It emits beta and gamma radiation and as a result has the potential to cause damage to human cells if they come into contact with it or are exposed to it for prolonged period of time.
It is used in industrial radiography to locate flaws in metal components and also in radiotherapy as a source of radiation to kill cancers.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lancashire police on 999 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Iridium – 192 labeled compounds have both internal and external exposure hazards to humans. Internally, Iridium – 192 can cause localized damage if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed by the skin. Externally, both gamma and beta radiation will cause damage to exposed areas.
Certain precautions can be taken to ensure that radiation exposure is kept to a minimum:
Minimize the time spent in close proximity to the radioactive materials.
Always use remote handling tools such as tongs whenever handling radioactive material.
Use radioactive materials in well-ventilated areas.
If necessary, shield the radioactive materials such that radiation dose rates are less that 0.25 mR/h in accessible areas.
Always wear disposable gloves and/or clothing whenever handling radioactive materials and keep your hands away from your mouth or other exposed skin.
Always monitor yourself and areas where radioactive materials are used for loose contamination and remove if detected.