09TBILISI314, GEORGIA: DISCOVERY OF ORPHAN RADIOACTIVE SOURCE

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09TBILISI314.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI314 2009-02-13 14:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1686
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0314 0441441
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131441Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0938
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RHMFISS/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000314 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR ISN/ECC ACHURCH AND BGOLDEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2019 
TAGS: PARM PGOV PREL KNNP DOE GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DISCOVERY OF ORPHAN RADIOACTIVE SOURCE 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 00019 
     B. TBILISI 00275 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (B) 
AND (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary and Comment.  On Sunday, February 8, customs 
officers discovered by chance an orphan radioactive source 
buried near Kopitnari airport, which is fourteen kilometers 
west of Kutaisi in western Georgia.  Officials from the 
Nuclear and Radioactive Safety Service (NRSS) determined that 
the source is Cesium-137 and are working with officials from 
other relevant government agencies on a removal plan.  The 
discovery of this source highlights the need for a western 
office of NRSS, but also reflects positively on Georgian 
efforts in this arena.  End comment. 
 
THE DISCOVERY 
 
2. (C) Around 4:00 p.m. on February 8, Customs Officers were 
on the Kutaisi-Samtredia central highway near Kopitnari 
airport in western Georgia, when one of the officer's 
personal radiation detection device, or pager, went off, 
indicating the presence of radioactive material (Note: The 
USG has donated hundreds of these pagers to the Border 
Services over the past 15 years. End note). The customs 
officer called a senior specialist at NRSS, and officials 
from NRSS traveled to the site near Kutaisi from Tbilisi the 
next day, arriving at 1:00 p.m.  The specialists determined 
that the source was Cesium-137 buried approximately 50 meters 
from the side of the Kutaisi-Samtredia central highway.  They 
proceeded to calculate the radiation level of the epicenter 
based on radiation readings from the area, and estimated the 
level to be 0.25 sieverts (Sv), which the specialist 
explained to poloff is equal to a human receiving twenty-five 
x-rays an hour.  Officials with the NRSS, MOIA and other 
relevant agencies have been discussing an excavation plan and 
anticipate having a plan in place by Monday. 
 
HEALTH RISKS 
 
3. (U) The closest source of population to the site is a gas 
station and farm, both about 50 meters away.  The people 
living at the farm, the employees of the gas station, and the 
population of the closest village, which is some distance 
away, have been made aware of the situation.  The site of the 
source has been cordoned off with sticks and tape and marked 
with warning signs.  The specialist from NRSS explained that 
a safe distance from the site is 30-40 meters.  He stated 
that if a person was to stand on top of the buried source for 
24 hours, that person would receive amounts of radiation 
dangerous to his or her health.  Furthermore, if a person was 
to hold the source for only a few minutes, he or she would 
receive radiation burns.  However, he assured poloff that all 
citizens in the area were made aware of and understood the 
danger of approaching the site. 
 
THE GEORGIANS GET IT RIGHT, BUT THERE'S ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT 
 
4. (C)  Despite the Georgians not having a reliable response 
plan to incidents of detection (see reftel B), the officials 
involved in this particular incident did act and respond as 
their current response plan dictates.  The customs officer 
was wearing his pager and did not ignore the alarm; he then 
called the experts at NRSS.  However, from the time the 
source was discovered there was a delay of 9 hours until NRSS 
arrived.  The lack of a western office and a reliable 
response plan are key reasons for this delay (see reftels A 
and B).  The United States continues to support the efforts 
Qand B).  The United States continues to support the efforts 
of the Georgian government to improve their ability to combat 
nuclear smuggling, including in establishing a western office 
of NRSS and developing an effective response plan. 
 
5. (U) Please contact political officer Nicole O'Brien at 
obriennl@state.sgov.gov or o'briennl@state.gov for questions 
or clarifications on this report. 
LOGSDON

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: