Dirty bomb threat lurks in U.S. hospitals, fed study warns.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report September 11 saying that hospitals have been negligent in securing the radioactive materials they use to treat cancer patients, potentially putting the materials in the hands of terrorists who could use them to make a dirty bomb. The GAO warned Congress about lapses in hospitals, many of which routinely use equipment containing radioactive materials. Nearly four out of five hospitals across the country have failed to put in place safeguards to secure radiological material that could be used in a dirty bomb, according to the report, which identifies more than 1,500 hospitals as having high-risk radiological sources. According to the report, the National Nuclear Security Administration spent $105 million to complete security upgrades at 321 of more than 1,500 hospitals and medical facilities that were identified as having high-risk radiological sources. The upgrades included security cameras, iris scanners, motion detectors, and tamper alarms. But these upgrades are not expected to be completed until 2025, so many hospitals and medical centers remain vulnerable, the GAO said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission challenged the GAO’s findings, saying that the agency and its partners are vigilant about protecting hospitals and medical facilities, and had developed additional voluntary layers of security to do so. The American Hospital Association said it was reviewing the GAO’s recommendations.
Utah dam break sends surge of flood water into dozens of homes, businesses.
Santa Clara, Utah, was devastated September 11 after an earthen dam broke during heavy rains, sending a surge of flood waters into 30 homes and some businesses. KSL 5 Salt Lake City reported a breach in a retention basin dam caused the surge of water. According to the National Weather Service, more than 3 inches of rain fell on the small canyon area of Ivins and the runoff drained into a dry wash, forcing pressure on the dam. A police officer spotted water coming through the dike and residents were evacuated before it broke. The county public works director said water began seeping through the top of the dam and as the earthen face eroded and pressure built up behind it, the breach sliced slowly downward to the rock base as it widened. Officials said the breach in the dam reached 60 to 80 feet wide at its base. The high-risk dam was scheduled to be rebuilt, they said.