Potentially dangerous radioactive material stolen from van in Bacup

A canister like the one that has been stolen

A canister like the one that has been stolen

First published in News
Last updated
Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

A DEADLY canister of radioactive material has been stolen from the back of a van.

If exposed the material, believed to be Iridium 192, can increase the risk of cancer, cause burns, radiation sickness or even death.

Police have warned people not to touch the yellow canister, which is marked with radiation trefoil.

It was taken between 1am on Saturday and 3.20am yesterday from a Peugeot Panel Van parked outside a house in New Line, Bacup.

It is believed the material was intended for industrial use.

The material was being transported from Scotland to the south of England by a courier who had stopped overnight.

Police said the courier had left Lancashire and was making his first delivery of the day when he noticed it had been taken. A fire extinguisher and a number of personal items had also been stolen.

A full investigation is now under way to find the sealed foot-long 15kg canister, police said.

Chief Inspector Russ Procter said the thieves may not be aware of the danger and urged people not to touch it.

He said: "It is important that this material is located as soon as possible.

"I would ask the public, especially in the Rossendale area, to keep an eye out for this canister and if they locate it then to call the police who will go and deal with it.

“I would also appeal direct to the people who have stolen it.

"They may have no idea what it is that they have in their possession or they may have discarded it somewhere.

“If that is the case then I would ask them to contact us or call Crimestoppers anonymously.

“It’s a really unusual theft. It is too early to say if the vehicle was targeted for these items. We are still in the early stages of the investigation."

Iridium 192 is a metal often used in industrial gauges that inspect welding seams, and can also be used in medicine to treat certain cancers.

However, large amounts of the material can increase the risk of cancer due of its high-energy gamma radiation, and it can also cause burns and acute radiation sickness.

The canister, which requires a key to be opened, has a thick layer of lead on the inside protecting a smaller canister, which contains the Iridium 192.

The Health Protection Agency urged anyone coming into contact with the cylinder to leave it where it is and alert the police.

A spokesperson said: “The radioactive material, believed to be Iridium 192, will not pose a risk to the public if it remains contained in its heavy lead container marked with the radiation trefoil.

“However, if the material is outside of its protection packaging, anyone who has come into prolonged physical contact, such as keeping it in a pocket, should seek medical assistance.

“If you see this package you should immediately inform the Police, do not touch it and keep away.”

A spokesman for the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which works to protect the public from hazardous materials, said: "We are aware of the incident overnight in Bacup.

“Police are leading in this matter and we are assisting their inquiries. Our input is largely to provide specialist advice on matters relating to the transport of radioactive materials, which we regulate, and in time we will conduct our own regulatory inquiries into this incident.”

Comments (16)

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12:15pm Mon 18 Feb 13

hasslem hasslem says...

now maybe i am being picky - but isn't leaving radioactive material in a van overnight a bit stupid?

that's bacup for you
now maybe i am being picky - but isn't leaving radioactive material in a van overnight a bit stupid? that's bacup for you hasslem hasslem
  • Score: 8

12:21pm Mon 18 Feb 13

darwenTower says...

hasslem hasslem wrote:
now maybe i am being picky - but isn't leaving radioactive material in a van overnight a bit stupid?

that's bacup for you
First thing I thought,
[quote][p][bold]hasslem hasslem[/bold] wrote: now maybe i am being picky - but isn't leaving radioactive material in a van overnight a bit stupid? that's bacup for you[/p][/quote]First thing I thought, darwenTower
  • Score: 4

12:31pm Mon 18 Feb 13

clickhere says...

Ominously, the container is made of lead.... Maybe a good idea to avoid local scrapyards for a thousand years or so. (or buy a trannie truck from someone with a funny accent..)
Ominously, the container is made of lead.... Maybe a good idea to avoid local scrapyards for a thousand years or so. (or buy a trannie truck from someone with a funny accent..) clickhere
  • Score: -3

12:39pm Mon 18 Feb 13

buckoff says...

Surely they would arrest the driver and hold them for questioning? This could be worth a lot of money in the wrong hands. And why on earth trust a dingle with this!!
Surely they would arrest the driver and hold them for questioning? This could be worth a lot of money in the wrong hands. And why on earth trust a dingle with this!! buckoff
  • Score: -6

3:08pm Mon 18 Feb 13

ToffeeGuy says...

Is this why people in Bacup have 12 toes?
Is this why people in Bacup have 12 toes? ToffeeGuy
  • Score: 0

4:11pm Mon 18 Feb 13

bikerjohn_uk says...

clickhere wrote:
Ominously, the container is made of lead.... Maybe a good idea to avoid local scrapyards for a thousand years or so. (or buy a trannie truck from someone with a funny accent..)
No, give it a couple of months, half-life of 73 days.
[quote][p][bold]clickhere[/bold] wrote: Ominously, the container is made of lead.... Maybe a good idea to avoid local scrapyards for a thousand years or so. (or buy a trannie truck from someone with a funny accent..)[/p][/quote]No, give it a couple of months, half-life of 73 days. bikerjohn_uk
  • Score: -4

5:04pm Mon 18 Feb 13

Graham Hartley says...

The material is believed to be Iridium 192, so may turn out to be something else - perhaps Polonium 210?
The material is believed to be Iridium 192, so may turn out to be something else - perhaps Polonium 210? Graham Hartley
  • Score: -6

5:34pm Mon 18 Feb 13

Good call says...

http://en.m.wikipedi
a.org/wiki/False_fla
g#section_5
http://en.m.wikipedi a.org/wiki/False_fla g#section_5 Good call
  • Score: 3

6:10pm Mon 18 Feb 13

woolywords says...

“The radioactive material, believed to be Iridium 192, will not pose a risk to the public if it remains contained in its heavy lead container marked with the radiation trefoil.'
My Mother used to think the same about rock buns in the cake tin, on the top shelf but they still went.
“The radioactive material, believed to be Iridium 192, will not pose a risk to the public if it remains contained in its heavy lead container marked with the radiation trefoil.' My Mother used to think the same about rock buns in the cake tin, on the top shelf but they still went. woolywords
  • Score: 0

6:25pm Mon 18 Feb 13

Ian123xyz says...

Van broken into over the weekend in Bacup? Wow, who could have foreseen that possibility?
Van broken into over the weekend in Bacup? Wow, who could have foreseen that possibility? Ian123xyz
  • Score: -3

9:39am Tue 19 Feb 13

chris283 says...

if it were that dangerous why the hell was a courier transporting it you would think it would have been transported in a more secure transport the mind boggles
if it were that dangerous why the hell was a courier transporting it you would think it would have been transported in a more secure transport the mind boggles chris283
  • Score: -2

7:41pm Tue 19 Feb 13

happycyclist says...

Bacup... think about it; it was probably the plan all along to have the van broken into. I bet the one stolen has a purposefully dodgy seal. With a bit of luck Bacup will cease to exist tomorrow.
Bacup... think about it; it was probably the plan all along to have the van broken into. I bet the one stolen has a purposefully dodgy seal. With a bit of luck Bacup will cease to exist tomorrow. happycyclist
  • Score: -5

9:01pm Tue 19 Feb 13

POW WOW says...

I find it bizarre that such a person would leave something highly dangerous in their vehicle and so from my point of view this concludes that the cargo doesn't seem to pose any significant risk whatsoever otherwise it wouldn't have been place under that person's responsibility in the first place wouldn't it ? It also looks as if it's not a mandatory requirement for such an item to go missing otherwise it would be fitted with a tracking device Surely? On the other hand maybe it's a department of transport test going on like they have at airports for security purposes.
I find it bizarre that such a person would leave something highly dangerous in their vehicle and so from my point of view this concludes that the cargo doesn't seem to pose any significant risk whatsoever otherwise it wouldn't have been place under that person's responsibility in the first place wouldn't it ? It also looks as if it's not a mandatory requirement for such an item to go missing otherwise it would be fitted with a tracking device Surely? On the other hand maybe it's a department of transport test going on like they have at airports for security purposes. POW WOW
  • Score: 0

9:10pm Tue 19 Feb 13

POW WOW says...

Another theory..... Bacup, UFO's, missing radioacitive material... you join the dots........ Maybe ET took it !!!!!!!!!!!!
Another theory..... Bacup, UFO's, missing radioacitive material... you join the dots........ Maybe ET took it !!!!!!!!!!!! POW WOW
  • Score: 0

5:10pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Major Tom says...

^^^^^^^ Here they come, the tinfoil hatters.^^^^^^^ I'm thinking it's more Peckham spring.
^^^^^^^ Here they come, the tinfoil hatters.^^^^^^^ I'm thinking it's more Peckham spring. Major Tom
  • Score: 2

8:44pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Unhappycyclist says...

Having lived in the Bacup area (not born there!), I noted the degree of mutation caused by inbreeeding. The loss of a radioactive source is worrying. Particularly as the only result will be a further shallowing of the gene pool.
Having lived in the Bacup area (not born there!), I noted the degree of mutation caused by inbreeeding. The loss of a radioactive source is worrying. Particularly as the only result will be a further shallowing of the gene pool. Unhappycyclist
  • Score: -4

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