Saturday, November 25, 2006
#6: Is Polonium hard to get?
12/2/2006. Case Closed. Finally, the mainstream press had accepted the facts as they are and started talking to real experts, not PR folks. This NYT arcticle is properly named, "Polonium, $22.50 plus tax" and delivers the view of Polonium as a widespread industrial metal, which it is. Just to dispel the notion of a "tightly controlled", here is a very casual American report about a loss of a unit with tens of lethal doses of Po-210 inside.
The recent poisoning of ex-KGB colonel Litvinenko in London prompted statements in the press stressing that use of Polonium 210 indicates a huge scale of operation. Polonium 210 is very hard for ordinary folks to get, the articles do say. A brief search on Google, however, reveals that Polonium sources are actually very commonplace, as they are used in factory devices that eliminate static electricity, like this one for sale on Internet at just $71 apiece. Some quantities of Polonium are therefore available with little or no safeguards in place. The good question is
Is it hard to get sufficient quantitites of Polonium 210 from static eliminators to poison Mr. Litvinenko?
Any person with reasonable background in radiochemistry should be able to give an answer. The positive answer might help to eliminate less sophisticated suspects, the negative one might add some weight to claims by Russian secret service that it did not participate in the killing.