Prosecutors Accuse New Jersey Man of Holding Lethal Uranium Cache

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 16, 2014, 7:52 a.m.

A ter­min­ated U.S. Army fa­cil­ity work­er faces charges for hold­ing what was thought to be a deadly form of urani­um, the Ne­wark Star-Ledger re­ports.

Po­lice de­tained 44-year-old Joseph Gi­beau on Sat­urday after al­legedly find­ing ra­dio­act­ive sub­stances in­side sev­er­al lead-shiel­ded con­tain­ers at his home while re­spond­ing to a do­mest­ic call, the news­pa­per re­por­ted on Tues­day. Two con­tain­ers re­portedly held a sub­stance tent­at­ively iden­ti­fied by au­thor­it­ies as urani­um sulfate, a po­ten­tially leth­al chem­ic­al.

“If you in­hale a single particle, it’s fatal,” Sus­sex County First As­sist­ant Pro­sec­utor Gregory Mueller said. Au­thor­it­ies al­legedly also seized a quant­ity of amer­i­ci­um 241, a ra­dio­act­ive iso­tope placed in fire alarms.

The pro­sec­utor said Gi­beau may have taken the sus­pec­ted urani­um sulfate from Pic­a­t­inny Ar­sen­al, an Army fa­cil­ity in New Jer­sey where he was em­ployed as a con­tract­or un­til Decem­ber.

“How [Gi­beau] came to get this ma­ter­i­al and what he planned to do with it is still un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion,” Mueller said.

The sus­pect cur­rently faces two counts of child en­dan­ger­ment be­cause the sub­stance was “eas­ily ac­cess­ible” to his two chil­dren, ages 6 and 9, the pro­sec­utor said dur­ing an ini­tial court pro­ceed­ing.

Mar­tin Mor­ris­on, Gi­beau’s law­yer, sug­ges­ted the de­fend­ant ob­tained the sub­stances to test a per­son­al col­lec­tion of ra­di­ation-meas­ur­ing devices.

“Some people have a hobby of fix­ing cars; his hobby is Gei­ger coun­ters,” Mor­ris­on said.

Terry Crum­mett, Gi­beau’s former man­ager at the con­tract firm Chugach In­dus­tries, said “per­form­ance and be­ha­vi­or­al is­sues” cost the de­fend­ant his in­form­a­tion tech­nic­al ser­vices po­s­i­tion at Pic­a­t­inny Ar­sen­al.

The Army fa­cil­ity was once in­volved in nuc­le­ar-arms pro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to its web­site. However, urani­um sulfate has no ap­plic­a­tions in pro­du­cing atom­ic en­ergy or weapons, the Star-Ledger re­por­ted.

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