Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Do They Ship Diamonds?

Commenter Matt opines yesterday's posting about the Danger Rangers at NEST was strangely coincidental with a posting elsewhere about nuke-shipping trucks.

There's a lot of pants-wetting about these ordinary-looking trucks; there was at least as much back when DOE had dumbbell-shaped containers on a fancy flatbed -- anyway, faked-up versions were a popular prop for the freeze-in-the-dark set. Never mind that the containers are tested six ways from Sunday; it's more important to panic so your kids can...live in a mud hut and freeze in the dark. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So, you might ask, what about the nicely-anonymous truckage (OMG, it could be right next to you!) and what's that got to do with diamonds?

The gemstone biz rarely does the courier padlocked to a briefcase (or strongbox) trick; they mail stones, small quantities in plain envelopes, P.O. Box or bland business name to similar destination. Often insured but it is Just Plain Mail -- as far as anyone but sender and recipient know. Turns out this is the best way to keep it from gettin' stolen.

Thus, too, with the hot stuff. Oh, there are circumstances where this varies but in general, a DOE-tested container in an unmarked truck is the safest way to go.

...Of course, if you're a bedwetter (or have a deep and abiding love of fly ash), shutting it all down is safer still; once the last guy has left and the bad-nasty stuff is locked away, nothing could go wrong. Suuuuure.

12 comments:

karrde said...

It was many years back...late 80's or early 90's...when the local news/traffic/weather report on the radio station said something along the lines of:

"A container of low-level nuclear waste was lost from a truck at the intersection of highway XY's exit to road Z."

I can't even remember if they said that there was almost-no-risk-of-irradiation, and I don't know how it happened. Since I only heard it once, I suspect that it didn't involve a broken container, just a lost container-mooring.

og said...

ooh, sweet link on the lighthouse. Talk about getting sucked into the intarweb.

Now all we need is some russian girl on a jetski to run around the place with a geiger counter and write about her experiences like Elena Filatova. (whose website I can STILL get lost in for hours at a time)

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reflectoscope said...

Og - Google a song called "Pompeii," if you're interested in this sort of thing.

Jim

og said...

been a student of pompeii for a very long time- but the song don't do anything for me- am I missing something?

joe said...

Back in the early 60's (ahem), before specialised transporters they used pretty ordinary semis. One stalled on the tracks in the middle of my then small hometown on the way to Hawthorne and got nailed by a train, popping a bomb out of the trailer and onto the ground.

"Officially", a)it never happened, b)there was no boom stuff in it, c)not to worry cause it was only a small leak, and d)we cleaned it up right away anyhow!.

Brief story in the local newspaper about a train /truck wreck but that was it.

reflectoscope said...

Og: Sorry, should have googled it myself first. Try this:

http://tinyurl.com/peczzw

As for special weapons, it is some comfort to know that a lot of very specific things must happen before they'll do what they do. Yes, they'll make a hell of a mess of a smallish area if the material gets scattered, but it could be a lot worse.

Jim

og said...

Jim: I'm still utterly lost. Is it a song I'm supposed to be listening to? How does that relate to pictures of abandoned nuclear installations? Is it a video I'm supposed to see?

Patrick said...

I work in New York, and there's a block known as the "diamond district." There, they transport diamonds by courier, and the couriers just stick the diamonds in their pockets. They don't hire the biggest guys they can get, they just hire guys who are essentially completely unremarkable, much like these plain envelopes.

Tam said...

I got to meet some of the guys who escort those shipments.

They were hard-eyed men of early middle age, still remarkably fit, with really big watches and the occasional "De Opresso Liber" ring; in short, people with whom one does not f$%&.

reflectoscope said...

Og - track 11 I think on the first album in the list. I don't know if iTunes would have it for a preview, but you might like the album in its entirety. The song in particular is the band's reaction to seeing a film about that woman taking her illicit tour of the Zone of Alienation.

Sorry for being obscure like that.

Jim

Don Meaker said...

Remember, diamonds are thermodynamically unstable, and hence a significant fire hazard...