Medical Industry Resists Phasing Out Radioactive Material


Global Security Newswire Staff
May 13, 2014, 8:09 a.m.

Gov­ern­ment ef­forts to elim­in­ate the com­mer­cial use of a ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­al deemed a se­cur­ity risk have run in­to op­pos­i­tion from the med­ic­al sec­tor.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced earli­er this year that it would work to phase out com­mer­cial ap­plic­a­tions of a num­ber of ra­dio­act­ive sub­stances that could be used to build a so-called “dirty bomb.” Such a weapon would use con­ven­tion­al ex­plos­ives to dis­perse pois­on­ous ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­al over a wide area.

Among the com­mon com­mer­cial sub­stances tar­geted for elim­in­a­tion is cesi­um chlor­ide. The gov­ern­ment is try­ing to con­vince hos­pit­als and blood banks in the coun­try to cease us­ing ir­ra­di­at­or ma­chines that con­tain cesi­um chlor­ide and in­stead use X-ray ir­ra­di­at­ors to make sure blood is safe for trans­fu­sion. The gov­ern­ment is weigh­ing us­ing grants and oth­er in­duce­ments to en­cour­age the move away from cesi­um chlor­ide ir­ra­di­at­ors, uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cials and spe­cial­ists told the Bo­ston Globe for a Monday art­icle.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing ex­tremely ra­dio­act­ive, cesi­um chlor­ide is also dis­solv­able in wa­ter. These char­ac­ter­ist­ics make the ma­ter­i­al “a great­er con­cern than oth­er ra­di­ation sources,” ac­cord­ing to a 2008 find­ing by the Na­tion­al Re­search Coun­cil.

However, some med­ic­al pro­fes­sion­als and com­pan­ies are res­ist­ing the urged change on the grounds that the new­er X-ray ir­ra­di­at­ors are too ex­pens­ive and more prone too break­ing down.

“X-ray ir­ra­di­at­ors break with reg­u­lar aban­don, so of course you have to buy two,” said Jed Gorlin, vice pres­id­ent of med­ic­al and qual­ity af­fairs at In­nov­at­ive Blood Re­sources in St. Paul, Minn.

Miles Pom­per, a seni­or re­search as­so­ci­ate at the James Mar­tin Cen­ter for Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Stud­ies, said that fin­an­cial motives are a sig­ni­fic­ant con­trib­ut­ing factor to the res­ist­ance.

“There are go­ing to be win­ners and losers,” Pom­per said. “The people who only make cesi­um chlor­ide aren’t go­ing to like it.”

What We're Following See More »
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
19 hours ago

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
15 hours ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
10 hours ago

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.