Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Kristine Svinicki listens to lawmakers as she testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Svinicki maintains there is no reason to ban the use of cesium irradiators, which multiple experts say pose a grave threat to national security.
SEATTLE — Scientific experts warned Congress more than a decade ago that just four teaspoons of radioactive cesium-137 — if spread by a terrorist's "dirty bomb" — could contaminate up to 10 square miles of Manhattan.
The material is commonly found across the United States. Hospitals, blood banks and medical research centers use it in devices called irradiators, which sterilize blood and tissue. Hundreds of the devices are licensed for use, including at least 50 in Southern California.
Each typically contains about twice as much radioactive material as the scientific panel warned could disrupt much of the nation's largest city.
President Trump ignored his own administration's findings, violated his constitutional duties and played pure politics when he declared emergency earlier this month in order to secure funding for a Mexican border wall, several dozen former national security officials said Monday.