Industry News, Operations

AristaTek, Inc. Offers Complimentary Report Detailing the Consequences of a Radiological Dispersion Device Using Cobalt 60

Aristatek, Inc, a leading provider of hazardous materials planning and response solutions, has prepared a written brief profiling the consequences of a radiological dispersion device (RDD) or dirty bomb using Cobalt 60, the substance stolen during a truck heist in Mexico late last year. The company will make this brief available at no cost to Hazmat teams, fire departments/fire marshals, law enforcement officials or any other public safety/health professionals to assist in their preparation and response to this type of terrorist event.

RDD’s or dirty bombs result when a terrorist uses an improvised explosive device (IED) to spread radiological material. The consequences of such a device are both the blast damage resulting from the explosive device itself as well as the distribution of radiological material that could affect responders and the public. RDD’s should not be mistaken with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have greater explosive, radiation and radiant heat destructive capability by orders of magnitude than a dirty bomb, and they also spread radiological material referred to as fallout.

The brief entitled “Radiological Dispersion Device using Cobalt 60” details the explosive effects of different IEDs as well as the dispersion of radiological material based on wind direction using the RDD and Explosives modeling tools from their PEAC-WMD software.

Cobalt 60 was chosen as the topic substance for this brief due to the theft of a truck transporting the material from a Mexican medical facility in late 2013. It is thought that radiological isotopes used in medical applications would be the most likely target by terrorists when attempting to construct RDDs. The substance remained missing for several days, but was recovered along with the stolen truck when it was found abandoned in a Mexican field.

“Dirty bombs have been a topic of concern in the responder community for quite some time,” stated Bruce King, CEO of Aristatek. “After the theft of the Cobalt 60 in Mexico, we had a lot of inquiries from our customers about how we could help them with planning for dirty bombs.”

One of the scary revelations in the brief is the reminder that with a substance like Cobalt 60 having a half-life of 5.3 years, the area exposed to this exploded substance would have to remain uninhabitable for many years, allowing sufficient time for radiation to reach suitable levels, unless costly clean-up measures are employed. The brief also contains useful tables on gamma radiation exposure and radiation health damage that can be used by responders for planning a response to a similar incident.

“Hopefully this brief, and our ‘RDD modeling’ tool that is in a beta stage for our PEAC-WMD software are resources that can help responders prepare and train for an RDD incident,” continued King.

This latest technical brief from AristaTek is a follow-up to their other popular briefs: Ammonium Nitrate Estimated Blast Effects released in September 2013, Toxic Consequences of Smoke Plumes from Crude Oil Fires released in January 2014 and Acetyl Fentanyl – A Dangerous Street Drug released in March 2014. These briefs can also be requested by visiting the company’s web site.

About AristaTek

Formed in 1999 by four chemists and engineers who conducted field scale research studies at the Nevada Test Site’s Hazmat Spill Center (HSC) mandated by the 1986 Superfund and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) during the 1990s, AristaTek has become a leading provider of CBRNE and HAZMAT response and planning solutions to the civilian and military market. PEAC-WMD, AristaTek’s leading software product, assists in response efforts by consolidating CBRNE & HAZMAT technical reference sources and automating stand-off distance modeling and communication of incident data. The PEAC software is the industry-standard in the CBRNE & HAZMAT response community, supporting critical CBRNE units such as the National Guard Civil Support Teams (CST), the United States Air Force (USAF) and countless civilian responders worldwide. AristaTek is a certified HUBZone business. For additional information, visit