(AP) - Authorities in Armenia have arrested a man they say was caught with radioactive cesium-137 in the trunk of his car in Yerevan, an official said Monday.
The highly toxic material, which could contaminate large areas if used in a "dirty bomb" was found Friday and "rendered harmless," State Atomic Oversight department chief Ashot Martirosian said.
Yerevan resident Gagik Tovmasian was arrested on charges of illegal trade in radioactive materials, Martirosian said. It was not immediately clear how the man obtained the material, but there are various sources for it in Armenia, Martirosian said.
Cesium-137 is used in density gauges and for machine calibration by various industries. In neighboring Georgia, authorities have spoken of the need to create a storage site for gauges that used cesium-137 to measure the level of gasoline in underground tanks at gas stations.
Martirosian did not say how much cesium was found, but he said the substance is very hazardous to human health.
Devices containing cesium-137 can cause serious radiation exposure if broken and held. Depending on the amount and form, experts say a "dirty bomb" made with cesium-137 could spread intense radioactivity over a section of a city, making it uninhabitable.
In February, Martirosian said a powerful source of radiation was found on the Armenian Iranian border, among scrap metal headed for Iran.