Seriously. No satire, no joke. Oops.
On Friday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that Idaho State University may face an $8,500 fine after losing one gram of weapons-grade plutonium. Although this quarter-sized amount of plutonium is nowhere near enough to make a nuclear weapon, it is enough to make a dirty bomb that spreads radiation, according to the Associated Press.
The missing plutonium came to the attention of the NRC while it was compiling an inspection report about how Idaho State University controlled its radioactive material. As detailed in the inspection report, last October someone notified the NRC about an event “involving a lost sealed source containing special nuclear material.” During an inventory checkup, a staff member at the university reported that there were 13 one-gram pieces of plutonium in stock, even though the university had previously reported having 14 pieces of the material to the NRC.
Read the whole thing. Context matters, as does big picture.