Turkish police have taken five people in custody over the smuggling of a highly-radioactive substance used to build nuclear weapons and power nuclear reactors. The 18.1 gram haul was found in a car.
Police discovered a vial of the valuable material after they pulled over a car in the northwestern Bolu province. The substance, believed to be californium, was found stashed under the gear shifter wrapped in a bag. Officers had to cut the upholstery to get to the parcel, which is estimated to be worth $72 million
Turkish police in the Black Sea region seize 18.1 grams of radioactive californium, an element used in nuclear weapons and reactors, worth around $72 million and held five suspects pic.twitter.com/qDNwqLEblO
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) July 6, 2019
Five suspects were detained in the raid, and the mixture was taken to the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) for a detailed analysis.
Californium is named after the place where it was synthesized back in 1950 – a laboratory at the University of California. Apart from being used to manufacture nukes and nuclear-powered reactors, the element also has a range of rather innocuous civilian applications. It can be a part of metal detectors and used in cancer treatment as well as oil, silver and gold mining operations. Still, the substance is highly dangerous and its production, distribution and transportation is restricted. Currently, only the US and Russia synthesize the isotope.