The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposed an $8,500 fine to Idaho State University for losing track of a gram of weapons-grade plutonium that has been missing since 2004.
A statement released by the commission states that three teams conducted a search for the plutonium in October 2017 but was unable to find it.
“Based on the results of our review, two apparent violations were identified and are being considered for escalated enforcement action in accordance with the NRC Enforcement Policy,” the statement reads. “The apparent violations involve the failure to control and maintain surveillance of licensed special nuclear material (10 CFR 20.1801) and the failure to provide information required by regulation to the Commission that was complete and accurate in all material respects (10 CFR 70.9). ”
According to the Associated Press, while there is not enough plutonium to create a nuclear bomb, the single gram is enough to make a dirty bomb that can spread radioactive contamination.
The university has not yet responded to the latest NRC statement.
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