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Stolen Radioactive Material Found in Iraq

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(Image credit: Guido Vrola/dreamstime)

A cache of radioactive material that went missing months ago has been found dumped in a town south of Basra, Iraq.

The radioactive material, called iridium-192, went missing from an oil storage facility near Basra in November 2015. Some security experts worried that groups such as the Islamic State had stolen the material for use in a dirty bomb.

The missing material was found by a passerby near the town of Zubair, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of Basra, Reuters reported. A source associated with the investigation told Reuters that the material had been isolated close to Zubair soon after it went missing.

"After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 percent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation," the chief of the security panel within Basra provincial council, Jabbar al-Saidi, told Reuters.

It's still not clear who took the material to the town and what they intended, officials say.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.