Nuclear Gauge Reported Stolen in West Virginia

A West Virginia company has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that a portable moisture-density gauge containing sealed sources of radioactive material has been stolen.  Thrasher Engineering of Bridgeport, West Virginia reported that the device was stolen early on September 10, 2016 from a technician’s truck while it was parked in Beaver, West Virginia.

Surveillance video acquired by local police shows an individual parking a white pickup truck next to the truck holding the gauge and then transferring the device to his or her vehicle.  The gauge was apparently locked by two different means, as required by NRC regulations.

The gauge holds small amounts of cesium-137 and americium-241.  It is used to make measurements by projecting the radiation from the two radioactive sources into the ground and then displaying the reflected radiation on a dial on its top.

Stored in a robust, yellow transportation case when not in use, the gauge consists of a shielding container with a plunger-type handle protruding from the top.  As long as the radioactive sources are in the shielded position, the gauge would present no hazard to the public.  However, any attempt to tamper with the radioactive sources in the device could subject the person to radiation exposure.

Anyone seeing the gauge should leave it alone and report its location to the NRC’s Operations Center at (301) 816-5100 or the Raleigh County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Office at (304) 255-9300.  The NRC Operations Center is staffed 24 hours a day and accepts collect calls.

For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.

Missing Portable Nuclear Gauge Recovered in Connecticut

On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency has been notified by a Connecticut company that a portable moisture-density gauge containing sealed sources of radioactive material that was reported stolen a day earlier has been recovered.  The gauge—which was located by police on the afternoon of July 26, 2016 at a pawnshop in Bridgeport, Connecticut—was not damaged.

On July 26, 2016, HAKS Material Testing Group—which is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut—reported that the device was stolen from a technician’s vehicle while it was parked in Bridgeport.  According to the NRC press release, the vehicle’s trunk was broken into, chains securing the gauge in place were cut and the gauge was removed.

The device contains small amounts of Cesium-137 and Americium-241.  The gauge is used to make measurements by projecting the radiation from the two radioactive sources into the ground and then displaying the reflected radiation on a dial on its top.

Upon notification of the theft, an NRC inspector was sent to the company’s offices to gather more information on the loss of the gauge.  In addition, law-enforcement authorities opened an investigation into the theft.

On July 27, 2016, an inspector from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) traveled to the shop to inspect the recovered gauge.  Once the inspector confirmed the device was undamaged, it was returned to its owner.

According to NRC’s press release announcing recovery of the gauge, the NRC is following up on the event.  This includes an NRC inspection being conducted at the offices of HAKS Material Testing Group in Bridgeport.

For additional information, please contact Diane Screnci at (610) 337-5330 or Neil Sheehan at (610) 337-5331.