Radioactive material worth $72m seized from car in Turkey

The stash was discovered hidden under the gearshift, wrapped in a plastic bag, in a car stopped in the northwestern province of Bolu.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
July 7, 2019 10:57
Radioactive sign

Radioactive sign. (photo credit: FLICKR)

Anti-smuggling and organized crime police in Turkey have arrested five people after 18.1 grams (0.64 oz.) of the highly radioactive element californium, were found hidden in a car.

The stash was discovered hidden under the gearshift, wrapped in a plastic bag, in a car stopped in the northwestern province of Bolu. Police had to cut through the upholstery to retrieve the material, valued at $72 million.

After seizure, the bag was sent to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

Californium was first synthesized by physics researchers in 1950 at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, and can be used in nuclear weapons and to help start up nuclear reactors.

The US and Russia are the only known producers of californium, leading to questions about the origin and destination of the smuggled element. Turkey is an important smuggling route due to its proximity to Africa, Asia and Europe.


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