Steve Fowler Investigates Russian Spy Poisoning with Polonium 210
He has been interviewed by the BBC and Dateline on the developing story

 

 

 


click here for Flash Video of Steve on Camera in the Story

 

 

The Russian former spy Alexander Litvinenko reportedly was contaminated by Polonium 210, a radioactive and chemically toxic substance. He may have been contaminated at a London Sushi bar. Many reports have been written on the availability of Polonium 210. In the former Soviet Union, it most likely is readily available especially to the new incarnation of the KGB (FSB). After all there have been reports of missing Po210 in the past. In the 1990's there was a reported 10 kg of Po210 missing from the Russian supply. If we look at the toxicity as reported by Wilkipedia :

Acute effects
The lethal dose (LD50) for acute radiation exposure is generally about 4 Sv. One Bq of 210Po (i.e., an amount that produces one decay per second) causes a radiation dose of 0.51 µSv if ingested, and 2.5 µSv if inhaled. Since 210Po has an activity of 166 TBq per gram, a fatal 4-Sv dose can be caused by ingesting 8 MBq (200 microcurie), about 50 nanograms (ng), or inhaling 1.6 MBq (40 microcurie), about 10 ng. One gram of 210Po could thus in theory poison 100 million people.

Therefore 10 kg would be enough to kill everyone on earth a hundred times over. The amount of Po210 in a Static Master Brush can be 500 micro Curies. Wilkipedia states that 200 micro Curies is enough to be lethal if ingested. Only 40 micro Curies if inhaled. This converts to 50 nano Grams and 10 nano Grams respectively. A packet of sugar on the restaurant table is 1 Gram. This is thousands of times more than enough to be lethal. The Po210 in the finished brush source frames is not in a form to easily be ingested. However, the original Po210 used in the manufacturing would be. The questions becomes, how good is the inventory control when the Static Brushes are sold on the open market. The customers of these generally licensed sources are never checked by any authorities to see if they have the brushes. Therefore the loss of some Polonium going to non existent brushes would be very difficult to check.

Just to be sure of the lethality, a hit man would use larger amounts. The application of 1 milli gram of Po210 to a the top of the salt in a shaker, to the packet of sweetener, to the sticky rice in sushi, or to any materials in the environment of the victim could be lethal. The use of a sushi bar is very inventive. The number of unpackaged foods onto or into which a milligram of Po210 could be introduced is very high. The tastes in a sushi bar easily would mask any possible notice of an adulterant to the food. Who could taste Polonium in their wasabi?

James Bond would not be proud and neither should the Russians since substances like Polonium are so easily traced. If they had used Hydrogen Cyanide or even ricin, it would have not been so easy to find all the traces around town. Polonium is easily found with radiation detection equipment without sending to a lab. The 1978 death of a Bulgarian dissedent with a ricin pellet was more to the style of the KGB (FSB). I am sure if all areas frequented by the hit man in 1978 were thoroughly analysed, there would be traces of ricin. However, the Geiger counters would not be chattering and the fears of the public would be less.

 


"You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed."
-Posthumous statement from Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko
August 30, 1962 - November 23, 2006

According to British government officials, a rare radioactive substance polonium-210 killed ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. The ex-spy had lived in London since 2000 after he sought political asylum. Litvinenko became a British citizen in October of this year.

Litvinenko died at a London hospital after spending days in intensive care as doctors tried to determine what was causing his organs to fail and attacking his bone marrow and destroying his immune system.

British health officials said that the radioactive element polonium-210 had been found in his urine, and the police said that traces of radiation were found at Litvinenko's home, a hotel and a sushi restaurant he visited on the day he became ill.

Litvinenko was a harsh critic of Russian President Valdimir Putin's government and he told police that he believed he was poisoned on November 1, while investigating the October slaying of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another critic of Putin.

In a statement that Litvinenko wrote before his death, he put the blame for his death directly on President Putin calling him "barbaric and ruthless". The statement was read to reporters by his friend, Alex Goldfarb, outside the hospital.

Goldfarb sad that Litvinenko dictated the statement before he lost consciousness, and signed it in the presence of his wife, Marina.

In his statement, Litvinenko accused Putin of having "no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value."

"You may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed, the statement said.

"You may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life."

Putin has strongly denied involvement by his government and called the deathbed statement a "political provocation" by his opponents.

Background
Alexander Litvinenko was born in the southwest Russian city of Voronezh, located on the Don River south of Lipetsk. Voronezh was founded in 1586 as a frontier fortress. He graduated from secondary school in 1980. He was then drafted into the Soviet Army and eventually rose from private to lieutenant-colonel.

In 1988 he began working with the Soviet KGB and by 1997 was promoted to the Department for the Analysis of Criminal organizations of the Russian FSB with the title of senior operational officer and deputy head of the Seventh Section.

However, in 1998 Litvinenko said that he was dismissed from the FSB and then arrested because he claimed that his superiors had ordered the killing of businessman Boris Berezovsky ,who held the high government post of Secretary of the Security Council.

After being arrested for a third time and release shortly afterwards, Litvinenko left Russia without a passport and made his way to Turkey where he joined his wife and son. In November of 2000, they immigrated to the United Kingdom claiming political asylum and in October of 2006 Litvinenko became a British citizen.


Interesting links for Polonium 210 Sites:

http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc/polonium.pdf
http://www.orau.org/PTP/collection/Sources/nrdiongun.htm
http://www.amstat.com/solutions/nuclear/others.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6190144.stm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium
http://www.acsa2000.net/HealthAlert/lungcancer.html
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/isotopes/catalog.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/cwillis/rad/brush.html
http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=419821&in_page_id=1770
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/isotopes/pick_1.html
http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=167529
http://209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1746485/posts
http://www.2spi.com/catalog/photo/statmaster.shtml
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2006/11/27/2003338122
http://www.unitednuclear.com/mugs.htm
http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm
http://leda.lycaeum.org/?ID=12555
http://nepenthes.lycaeum.org/Drugs/THC/Health/cancer.rad.html

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