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DHS news release

March 17, 2004


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg, (503) 731-4180
Technical contact: Terry Lindsey (503) 731-4014 ext. 660


Stolen nuclear gauge is recovered


A radiation-containing gauge stolen in the Bend area two weeks ago has been recovered, public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) said today.


"The device was found on a road near Highway 20, east of Bend," said Terry Lindsey, radiation protection manager in DHS. "Thanks to help from many partners, it has been found and no one has been harmed."


The missing equipment was a Troxler Model 3440 nuclear gauge, used as part of road improvement projects to test moisture and density of road construction materials. The radiation contained in the gauge is shielded. However, if the equipment were used improperly or tampered with, the individual could receive burned hands or serious radiation exposure, Lindsey said.


This recent theft occurred during the night of March 3 at a Holiday Inn Express parking lot in Bend. The gauge was locked in the front of a pickup truck.


In 2002, DHS tightened security procedures for companies that use these gauges, Lindsey said. "The best prevention is to store gauges in a locked building when they are not in use. Most thefts occur when gauges are locked in vehicles where they are vulnerable to thieves cutting through locking chains."


DHS will review current security requirements and compare its requirements with other states that have had success in reducing thefts, and meet with portable gauge licensees to develop increased or expanded security requirements and recommendations. Potential actions include an enforcement bulletin adding new requirements within a specified time frame and added conditions as licenses are amended during the next few months.


Similar devices are licensed throughout the United States by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "We work with federal partners to ensure that all radiation-containing equipment in Oregon is licensed, tracked and accounted for," Lindsey said.


Additional information on Oregon’s radiation protection program can be found  by calling (503) 731-4014.