Fractured Isotopes: Protecting Your Facility

Video illustrates why willingness and ability of radiation safety officers and security officers to report suspicious behavior is critical to protecting the country against radiological threats.

Video Transcript



So, do you have any fun plans this weekend?

Oh, you know, a little family time outdoors maybe.

Yeah, well, I hope the weather cooperates. They’re actually calling for rain tomorrow.

We we’re thinking…

[Loud explosion]

Look out! Coming Through! Excuse me!

Do we need protective clothing?

The word I got is that It’s only needed within a couple hundred feet of the blast center.

We have confirmed that there has been an explosion here at the hospital so we’ve contained the situation, everyone is safe, we’re making sure… I gotta go.

Sheriff Coop, Special Agent Sommers, this is Special Agent Harkins.

Good to see you guys! We have a real mess on our hands here! I mean, what kind of person detonates a bomb on top of a hospital? Who does that?

We’ve confirmed the device used radiological materials, right?

Apparently so. I mean, we still have some radiological source missing from some of the equipment here in the hospital. Let’s go talk about this further in the security office. Follow me up there, will you?

This is Dan Jenkins, he’s the Hospital’s Chief Security Officer. He has a decent timeline for what we know so far.

Mr. Jenkins, what can you tell us?

At about 12:40pm we received a report of a disturbance in the main lobby. Caucasian male approximately 30 years old. He was agitated about somebody supposedly staring at him. He seemed determined to cause a scene and when he started hollering and throwing things we dispatched all available personnel to try to calm him down before someone got hurt.

Did they get the man’s name?

Is he still on the premises?

No and No because at 12:48 we received an emergency call that our radiation safety officer had been attacked in the oncology ward. All the men in the lobby headed there immediately. They told the man who started the disturbance to stay put, but he must have run out with all of the other people when they heard the blast.

Did you lock down the facility?

No this is a very large hospital and we did not have time to implement all of our emergency procedures.

When did you contact the law enforcement?

Well, first we tried to figure out what was going on and then we noticed that the irradiator had been opened.

And that was when you called the sheriff?

Yes, but before we could do anything, the explosion occurred.

I was eating lunch at my desk and then somebody starts pounding on the door.

Come out there’s a major incident in the building. You gotta come out now!

What are you talking about, major incident?

Step back!


You step right back.

You give me the source.

He just kept yelling at me. He wanted the source. The material is very unsafe. It’s very unsafe. Ahh

Radioactive material for a dirty bomb

Yeah, well I knew what he meant. I saw he had a lead pig in his cart.

A lead pig?

It’s a lead lined cylinder that you use to carry radiological material.

What happened next?

I tried to talk him out of it, but when he started hitting me. I took him into the irradiator room. I gave him what he wanted. I’m sorry

If we brought you pictures, do you think that you might be able to identify the man who attacked you.

Yeah, I think I’ve seen him before. I think he’s one of our janitors.

What do you think?

I think we have a very conveniently timed disturbance in the lobby that give’s Mr. Lane’s assailant the time he needs to break in, secure the rad material, and get out before anyone has time to react.

OK, this is the CCTV footage from the irradiator room. I’ve got it queued up for about 12:45.

Alright, step through it slow.

There! Freeze it there!

Good, grab that.


How about the lobby a few minutes earlier?


Back it up. Freeze there. Can you zoom in?

Ok good. Let’s get a print out of both of those shots and then why don’t you go show the to Mr. Lane and I’ll head over to custodial services to see if they recognize our janitor.

Alright get that stuff put away and we’ll call it a day.

Alright boss.

Yeah, his name is Ronnie Watkins he’s been here about a month.

Wait, he didn’t have anything to do with the bombing today, did he?

Any reason to think he may be involved?

I don’t know, there’s something about that guy. Always seems to be just kind of lingering. Looking around. Poking his nose in places he has no business being. His business is cleaning that place.

Where have you seen him do this?

Different jobs. Look, he’s just kind of shifty. You know, the fact of the matter is if I wasn’t so short staffed, he wouldn’t be here.

Did he ever say anything unusual?

He’s not much of a talker. Kind of stares.

Do you have an address for Mr. Watkins?

Yeah, in is file. Give me a minute and I’ll get it for you.

I got a name. Ronnie Watkins and an address. He’s apparently living in a motel near the south side freight depot. The Dogwood Inn.

Dogwood Inn. Got it.

Lane ID’d the guy in the photo was his assailant. We’ll get a tactical team rolling and we’ll meet you there.

FBI! Down, down, down, down.

Get down.

Hands behind your back.

The sign says do not disturb.

Ronald L. Watkins you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.

Mr. Watkins, we have you on closed circuit television at the scene of a very serious crime. Do you want to tell us about your involvement?

Alright by me. See, we want people to know how and why we did what we did.

You want people to know that you and your partner assembled and detonated a dirty bomb on the roof of a hospital?

So you don’t mind helping us clear up a few loose ends?

I’ll tell you anything you want to know.

Well, lets start with how you became so familiar with the facility’s procedures.

Good recon by me and my friend Jed. Who’s long gone by now.

Is Jed the man that started the fight in the lobby?

As soon as I was hired as housekeeper, Jed and me took turns working there. I’d just give him my uniform and nobody even blinked. We learned the floor plans. Where all the closed circuit cameras were. No one ever looks at a janitor.

We actually got a copy of a report that someone filed with Jenkins in security about having to ask a member of the custodial staff to stop loitering around the security office.

Then late yesterday afternoon we lifted an ID badge from the men’s locker room and Jed used that to get up on the roof where he planted the explosives and trigger while I took care of the final preparations. And today we finished the job.

How did you know how to get the rad source out of that machine?

Found the maintenance manual for the machine on a shelf. Copied it one night. Studied it real good. I knew I’d have to work fast. Jed started that fight. It only bought me a few minutes.

Well Ronnie Watkins, those few minutes are probably going to buy you quite a few years in the penitentiary.

Hey, guys like me. We can do the time. But I tell you what. You would not believe how mad Jed and me are at a system that keeps guys like us down.

So many places where it should have been different.

Like stricter ID checks to make sure the picture matches the face.

Making sure to report suspicious behavior and then follow up on those reports.

Not sending every officer to a single trouble spot.

Making sure to report a stolen ID badge when it occurs. Instead of the following day at the start of your  next shift.

Federal Authorities have cordoned off a half mile perimeter around Sloan Memorial Hospital where an apparent dirty bomb was detonated on the roof of the building. There are reports of high radiation readings within 300ft of the blast radius. One suspect is in custody. One remains on the run. We’re told there will be press conference at 6pm today.

I’m Bob Jones, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. The video that you just watched illustrates just how important it is to be aware of the potential dangers of radiological materials falling into the wrong hands. The FBI wants to highlight the importance of your role in reporting any suspicious behavior that you may witness. Your willingness and ability to report suspicious behavior is critical to protecting the country against radiological threats. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to establish a working relationship with your local FBI WMD Coordinator. On behalf of the FBI’s WMD Directorate, I thank you for your interest and diligence in keeping America safe.

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