Was Uranium sold in the Philippines?

A billet of highly enriched uranium that was recovered from scrap processed at the Y-12 National Security Complex Plant. Original and unrotated.

ABS-CBN quoted wikileaks that Uranium was allegedly smuggled into the Philippines.  The circumstances surrounding the reveal sounded like something out of a spy thriller.  This is one of those instances where the use of Wikileaks could easily be taken out of context.

It is a case study of when not to use Wikileaks.

The ABS-CBN story does not delve deeper into the cables, if there were any related documents associated with it; or to point whether the situation was resolved or not from the cables.  It seemed rather reckless to publish something this sensitive, without telling us some deeper context surrounding the incident– if that is at all possible.   The intelligence report could easily have been discarded or deemed false.

What’s even more appalling is how some associate “nuclear,” with evil.  Radioactive material that could, in theory be used for evil routinely enter and are actively used in the Philippines (and elsewhere).  These radioactive material are used in Oncology for example.  Cobalt-60 sources are used in the country for treating such cases as head and neck cancers, as well as treating food to increase shelf life.  Low Dose Brachytherapy (Greek for short distance), which is implanting Radioactive material in the form of “seeds,” to fight prostate cancer is also used by medical professionals.  High dose rate Brachytherapy uses Iridum 192 to deliver therapeutic dose through catheters and needles.  The country also has a few machines that have Caesium 137 which in turn is used to fight Graft versus Host Disease.

It is a highly regulated industry, with rigid safety standards, and people from businesses to staff to government who take all these things seriously.  For example, doctors and medical personnel are routinely licensed and trained in its safe handling.  Engineers who maintain, and install them are likewise certified first, and properly trained.  Hospital and engineers have geiger counters, and radiation badges to ensure safety.

All radioactive material that comes through our airports are screened and safely transported.

This national culture against anything nuclear is outrageous.  Nuclear energy is also one of the safest in the world, and could potentially solve the country’s energy problem.  It really is shameful how a nation such us ours is horrified at even the thought of nuclear energy.  We simply believe it to be evil.

A story by ABS-CBN on the possibility that the sale of illicit uranium in the Philippines, without delving deeper into whether or not there is a story, or the cable was simply disregarded for whatever reason is just irresponsible.  It simply gives people the wrong idea and one of the times when real investigative journalism needs to take center stage to explain and to inform the public, and not to alarm it.

Photo: public domain.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.