BALTIMORE, MD (April 24, 2002) – The moisture density gauge containing nuclear material that was reported missing last month, was recovered by Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) officials yesterday.
The Troxler Model 3430 surface moisture density gauge was taken from a construction site located at 6100 Dobbin Road in Columbia sometime between Friday afternoon March 15 and 9 a.m. Saturday March 16.
The owner of Super Pawn, located in the 10100 block of Washington Boulevard in Laurel, called Howard County Police Monday to report that someone tried to pawn the device. Police investigators recovered the construction equipment at the shop in the locked position, but without its related carrying case. It was taken to the Howard County Police Department’s Southern District Property Room and secured until members of MDE’s Radiological Health Division could do an initial assessment of the device. A wipe test conducted at the state lab in Baltimore by MDE staff confirmed the device had not been compromised and was not leaking radiation PSI, the machine’s licensed owner, has arranged for pick-up of the device from the police.
Moisture density gauges can contain small amounts of radioactive material and are used to measure moisture and compaction in soils, concrete, asphalt and other aggregates. The radioactive material they most often contain is Cesium-137 on an extendable rod and Americium-241 encased inside the device. A padlock is normally used to secure the Cesium-137 source in its shielded position when not in use. The device is not a hazard to the public as long as the radioactive material remains locked in the device.
Howard County Police continue their investigation into the theft of the device.