The Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned Monday that an industrial camera stolen from a Billings refinery testing service could pose a serious radiation hazard if its casing and shielding is opened.
The portable radiographic camera, used to scan refinery pipes for flaws, contains a capsule of Iridium 192. It was stolen sometime within the last two weeks from Mattingly Testing Services in Billings.
Ross Scarano, director of the nuclear materials safety division at the NRC regional office in Arlington, Texas, said the camera was chained to a portable generator and investigators believe the generator was the target of the theft.
If that is true, he said, the burglars may have cut the chain and discarded the camera.
“It’s probably laying over a hill somewhere,” he said.
If the device remains intact, he said, it is harmless. But if the locked case is opened, the metal capsule containing the Iridium would be exposed. The capsule itself also could be breached, though it would be difficult, he said.