Gqeberha police confirm stolen radioactive material recovered at scrap metal dealer
Gqeberha police confirmed on Tuesday that the owner had recovered a canister filled with radioactive material stolen from a car in the city on Friday.
Police have confirmed that a canister filled with radioactive material was recovered by its owner on Tuesday morning after the suspected thief tried to sell it to a scrap metal dealer.
The cylinder, containing iridium-192, was stolen from a vehicle at a guesthouse in Sydenham, Gqeberha. Police spokesperson Andre Beetge said it had not been opened and nobody had been harmed.
Beetge said the owner of the cylinder had distributed flyers in the area to alert the public about the situation.
“The scrapyard dealer contacted the owner via the numbers provided on the flyers that were circulated. According to the dealer, a man attempted to sell the item to them and when the dealer started to question him, he ran away.
“The canister was fetched by its owner at the scrapyard. According to them, it didn’t seem to have been tampered with,” Beetge said.
“No arrests have been made; however, the police are appealing to anyone with information that would assist in finding the suspect.”
Beetge said the owner of the cylinder owns a welding business and is from KwaZulu-Natal. The isotope is used to carry out X-ray welding inspections underwater.
“Their vehicle was parked in Mulder Avenue, Sydenham while they were at a guesthouse,” he said. It is believed that the cylinder was stolen at around 6am on Friday.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Cylinder containing radioactive isotope stolen from car in Gqeberha
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, external exposure to iridium-192 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and death.
Vandalism and the theft of scrap metal are rife in Nelson Mandela Bay and in November last year, the metro’s business chamber called for a state of disaster to be declared to help authorities to deal with the matter. DM