YEAR-LONG INVESTIGATION REVEALS THE FORMER SOVIET UNION HAS A SUPPLY OF RADIOACTIVE AND OTHER DANGEROUS MATERIALS
-- ON "60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY"
During a year-long investigation in the former Soviet Union, 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY found a supply of the radioactive materials needed to make dirty bombs. Correspondent Dan Rather reports that the materials have been abandoned over the years -- on military bases, in the woods and outside apartment buildings in the country of Georgia. Rather�s report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY on Dec. 15 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
During the investigation, 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY learned that, for $10,000, it is possible to buy enough radioactive Cesium 137 to make a dirty bomb. The broadcast also found other dangerous materials that would be of great interest to terrorists. The director of a research facility in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi shows 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY a small room with several refrigerators that are packed with deadly pathogens and diseases, such as anthrax, plague and botulism.
The anthrax and plague and botulism -- and lots of radioactive materials -- were all left behind by the Russians when they departed Georgia in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russians abandoned the materials at about 150 military bases without telling or warning anyone. And they didn't leave a clean-up fund. �We didn�t get much cooperation on those issues from the Russians,� Georgia�s new president, Mikhail Saakashvili, told Rather. �...They left the country without proper agreement on how those things should have been handled. It was [a] rather chaotic process.�
The Georgian government insists it has safely stored all the radioactive materials it has found, but 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY learned that security is lax. At one facility where there were 200 sealed canisters of Cesium 137, there was only one security guard posted at the front of the building. Behind the building, there was just a wall, a wire fence and no security cameras. Sasha Gurevich, a former Georgian television journalist, showed 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY that the crumbling wall is not secure enough to keep out intruders. �I went over the wall, walked up a little hill, looked around. There was no security, so I felt safe,� says Gurevich. �...I saw the facility -- it is about 150 meters from the wall. I walked right to it. It was about 10 meters away from me. There was no security around. Nobody was walking around. There was only one rusty lock on the gate and there was a huge sign of radioactivity on the gate. [I] turned around, came back, crawled through the wall. The government tells us that police should be here in case of trespassing within two or three minutes. Nobody is here. I am standing here for the last 10 minutes now....�
Josh Howard is the executive producer of 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY and Tom Anderson is the producer of this report.