Dec 29 2006
Update: It is clear from this later reporting that this effort is simply at the procurement stage and is not being done in any expidited manner. It would be nice of the media could attempt a modicum of accuracy and detail on these stories. And I will attempt a modicum of restraint as well. – end update
Clear indications today Britian is preparing for possible Dirty Bomb attack, as they beef up their stores of specialized radiation protection equipment:
THOUSANDS more British police will be issued with protective suits to wear in the event of a chemical, biological or radiological attack.
The 12,000 new suits would be worn at the scene of a â€œdirty bombâ€ attack, where explosives are used to spread radioactive material.
Britain’s security services are on the second-highest level of alert for a terrorist attack. They say an attack is â€œhighly likelyâ€.
A Home Office spokesman said the decision to buy new equipment for the police was not linked to any specific threat.
â€œTechnology is constantly advancing and as part of that process we are procuring 12,000 new suits,â€ the spokesman said today.
â€œIt’s just a desire to provide police with the right equipment.â€
I have no idea what the state-of-the-art suits cost these days, but you can get what I would assume are older models for $1200 dollars on the web (the internet is a very strange place indeed). At a price that must be over $14.4 million for the latest gear this is not some small expense for a police force. The UK is clearly still girding for an attack and they are rightfully not relying on the assassination theory surrounding Litvinenko’s death to account for all the Polonium-210 that may have been smuggled in.
In trying to explain the relative amounts being discussed I used 16 oz coke bottles as the example. It is assumed Litvinenko ingested 1 thousandth of a gram of Polonium-210. A gram of a crystal or powder is roughly what you get in a packet of sweetener. If we equate the Litvinenko dosage to 2 16 oz cokes, then the gram (the packet of sweetener) is equal to a ton of coke – or 2,000 16 oz cokes. We think there may have been as many as three cosignments of Polonium-210 brought into London during October. It is nearly impossible to handle a thousandth of a gram of anything – that is less than a grain of salt. So it would seem there must be more Polonium smuggled in than killed Litvinenko. And it would seem the trail across the three countries known to have radiation contamination is much more than what killed Litvinenko.
So what was the size of the consignment? If it was the size of one packet of sweetener, it was only three grams over three trips. But that is well over 3,000 times the dosage that killed Litvinenko and sufficient to kill millions of people.
Interestingly, we are not seeing a lot of secondary contamination – which I must caveat with a strong “yet” – around the London hotspots associated with the three possible consignment shipments:
Hundreds of people who were at two central London hotels where murdered former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko met contacts have been given the all clear.
Traces of the radioactive substance polonium-210 were discovered at the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Mayfair where the Russian met contacts and at the Sheraton Hotel in exclusive Park Lane.
Although eight staff members at the Millenium Hotel and one at the Sheraton were discovered to have received low non life-threatening dosage due to contamination, the Government’s Health Protection Agency said 486 guests and workers showed no signs of contamination.
However 670 people are still awaiting the results of testing for contamination from the radioactive isotope.
This is a welcomed and interesting development. My suspicions are for those still awaiting tests these are people who had the disfortune to stay in the contaminated rooms at the three hotels now part of the Polonium trail. But if the contamination scope doesn’t spread out then this provides more clues as to the nature of the Polonium-210, and how it could be trailed. Particulate forms would float around and get everywhere – as has been seen in labs attempting to deal with Polonium. If the Polonium tended to ‘stick’ to a spot, then it may have been in liquid form and, as the liguid evaporatated, dried to the fabric. Of course we could have different forms of the material at different times – depending on what was being done in all those contaminated hotel rooms.
But there is one other interesting item in the story about the lack of contamination in guests at the hotel:
The agency said the dosage received by the workers are lower than that received by Mrs Litvinenko and the levels of contamination but they were “not significant enough to result in any illness in the short term and any increased risk in the long term is likely to be very small.”
Emphasis mine. It is clear from this that the physical contamination of the sites is actually higher than the poison levels being detected inside people. Two words – ‘contamination’ and ‘poisoning’ – describing the amount of Polonium at each ‘site’. As I suspected the trail is much hotter than the people exposed. Litvinenko still has the highest dosage in this event. Kovtun looks to be second, with Lugovoi third and Scaramella fourth (with what is probably a fatal dose, but without any signs yet). From there we get to Marina Litvinenko and all the others. 4 people showing potentially deadly doses – with one of the four showing a massive dose. But is the trail itself the largest pool of Polonium? Clearly the contamination at some of these sites is higher than that found in those whose doses are less than Marina’s. But we cannot yet tell if it is higher or lower than the four known high dose victims. What we are seeing is the Polonium is not poisoning as much as it is contaminating. This leads me to believe a lot of the trail is due to a liquid which gets on clothes or skin and is later washed off – removing the threat of poisoning. All speculation of course.