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For the second time in two years, radioactive material goes missing
11 Feb. 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- For the second time in two years, hazardous radioactive material owned by Halliburton has gone missing. The material, known as americium, is used for drilling oil. It disappeared last October while being transported from Russia to Houston. Although it was lost for four months, Halliburton and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) insisted the public was never in any danger. The material was found this week at a Boston freight facility after an exhaustive search by the NRC, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In December 2002, Halliburton reported the disappearance of two radioactive devices from its Nigerian operations, sparking fears of a terrorist attack. The devices later turned up at a steel recycling plant in Bavaria, Germany, but nobody knows how or why they were shipped there. The Nigerian government was dismayed over Halliburton's refusal to return the devices or explain the disappearance. So, the government banned the firm from receiving new contracts, citing a "negligent" safety record.

Halliburton blames the latest disappearance on the shipper, Tennessee-based Forward Air, who had improperly labeled the shipment as destined for Boston, rather than Houston. Halliburton said it had contacted the shipper multiple times about the package and was told repeatedly that the shipment was not lost.

The NRC was not told about the missing material until this week, four months after the disappearance. The law requires companies to notify the NRC of missing radioactive materials either immediately or within 30 days, depending on the type of radiation involved. "We're going to be pressing them on why the notification was not more timely," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told AP.

"All of this was found intact, and we have no information that leads us to believe that the public or environment were in danger," a Halliburton spokesperson said.

But Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was not convinced. "This is a shocking demonstration of the inadequacies of our current tracking system," he said. The congressman plans to introduce legislation next week to force the NRC to establish a full-scale tracking system for radioactive materials.

More Information:

The Age - Halliburton keeps nuke loss a secret

ABC News - Lost Halliburton Nuclear Material Found: Halliburton Delays Reporting to Government About Missing Radioactive Material For Months