Afp Puts Nuclear Forensics In The Spotlight

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23rd September 2008, 06:35pm - Views: 838

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23 September 2008 

Media Release

AFP puts nuclear forensics in the spotlight


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will play a significant role in the Australasian

Radiation Protection Society’s (ARPS) annual conference being held in Canberra

this week.

For the first time in society’s 33 year conference history, the AFP’s Chemical,

Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Data Centre (CBRNDC) has been

instrumental in having a nuclear forensics session tomorrow (24 September)

as part of the four-day program.

The AFP’s Dr George Koperski said nuclear forensics has become increasingly

important amid world concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and

weapons of mass destruction.

“As a scientific discipline, nuclear forensics can assist law enforcement agencies

around the world in the fight against the illicit trafficking of chemical, biological,

radiological and nuclear materials which may be used by terrorists in ‘dirty

bombs’ or for other criminal purposes,” he said.

Dr Koperski, a radiological expert at the CBRNDC, said nuclear forensics is able

to identify a characteristic ‘signature’ of radioactive material linking it to its


“A miniscule quantity of oxygen in any given material can be linked back to its

place of origin and a tiny trace of yellowcake can be linked back to the mine

from which the ore originally came providing the combination of chemicals in

the material can be matched to a ‘signature’ in the database.”

He said nuclear forensic analysis aimed to provide law enforcement agencies

with legally admissible evidence that could result in the prosecution of offenders

involved with trafficking illicit radioactive materials. 

“Fortunately there have been no reported cases of the malicious use of

radioactive material in Australia, but there have been a number of

investigations overseas. This is includes a case of a highly enriched uranium

sample seized in Bulgaria in 1999, and the analysis of radioactive material

found during a raid of a clandestine drug lab in the USA,” he said.

The AFP has sponsored two keynote conference speakers; David K Smith, a

senior Nuclear Forensics Advisor from the Lawrence Livermore National

Laboratory (LLNL) in the USA, and Dr Peter Gies, from the Australian Radiation

Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). Dr Gies will give the keynote

presentation on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection.


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Federal Police

About the AFP Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear

Data Centre (CBRNDC)

The CBRNDC was established on 2 July 2007 and is part of the AFP’s Forensic

and Data Centres group.

The CBRNDC is responsible for collating technical information and intelligence

relating to the criminal use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear


CBRNDC’s mission is to enhance Australia’s capability to prevent, prepare and

respond to malicious use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear

agents. It does this by providing technical intelligence products and services in

order to support law enforcement and national security objectives.

The CBRNDC has strategic relationships with authorities in the United Kingdom,

the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

About the AFP Forensic and Data Centres (Formerly Forensic and

Technical) group

Since 1989, the group has grown from modest beginnings to a multi-site,

multi-discipline group under the guidance of National Manager Forensic and

Data Centres, Dr James Robertson. 

AFP Forensic and Data Centres includes forensic operations, the Australian

Bomb Data Centre (ABDC), the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear

Data Centre (CBRNDC) and Forensic Drug Support, soon to become Australian

Illicit Drug Data Centre (AIDDC).

With approximately 260 staff, the F&DC group covers almost all aspects of

forensic science and technical information. It has a strong research and

development interest and has formed strategic partnerships in Australia and


Media enquiries

AFP National Media Team     

Phone: (02) 6275 7100

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