Jul 15 2007

New Litvinenko Eye Witness Sounds Completely Implausible

The UK news is out with a very eye opening account of what would seem, at a glance, to be a clear assassination attempt. And it would seem to be an attempt on Litvinenko, Kovtun and Lugovoi – not just Litvinenko. The supposed eyewitness’s story is at odds with what we know about Po-210. In fact, it is so much science fiction one wonders why authorities would put this out? First the incredible story, which seems to have been authorized to become public by police but is not being publically supported by police:

Recounting the extraordinary events of November 1 last year, Mr Andrade, who has worked at the hotel for 27 years, told The Sunday Telegraph: “When I was delivering gin and tonic to the table, I was obstructed. I couldn’t see what was happening, but it seemed very deliberate to create a distraction. It made it difficult to put the drink down.

“It was the only moment when the situation seemed unfriendly and something went on at that point. I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been a spray.”

Mr Andrade, from Brentwood, Essex, also revealed just how close he came to becoming an unintended second victim of the assassin. Shortly after the three men left the bar, Mr Andrade cleared the table. It was then that he noticed the contents of the teapot had turned a “funny colour”.

“When I poured the remains of the teapot into the sink, the tea looked more yellow than usual and was thicker – it looked gooey,” he recalled. “I scooped it out of the sink and threw it into the bin. I was so lucky I didn’t put my fingers into my mouth, or scratch my eye as I could have got this poison inside me.

“For nearly three weeks, we were working in a contaminated area. The dishwasher, the bar and the sink were contaminated. In the weeks after what happened, I was feeling hot and had a throat infection.

Interesting – but scientifically at odds with how Po-210 spreads, even in a ‘spray’. To understand how Po-210 acts we simply need to go back to two posts I did on the matter which relate the historic record of Po-210 deaths. The first post on December 12th related how, when Polonium was first discovered, it contaminated an entire lab and caused the slow death of at least two people:

A low-dose exposure was blamed for causing the death of Irene Joliot-Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, who first isolated polonium.

Irene died in 1956 [ten years after the exposure – ajstrata] of leukemia caused by accidental exposure when a sealed capsule of the metal exploded on her laboratory bench.

This gives some idea of how to relate dosage levels to impacts on health. Irene Curie was handling the raw material, with precautions, and did not die immediately but after ten years. I then posted on New Year’s Day on the other incidents of Po-210 exposure and death:

The first polonium death occurred in 1927.

The victim was Nobus Yamada, a Japanese researcher in Marie Curie’s lab in France. In 1924, he worked with Curie’s daughter Irene Joliot-Curie to prepare polonium sources. After returning home the next year, Yamada fell ill.

Note Mr. Yamada died much faster and was in the same lab as Irene Curie who succumbed after ten years. And there were more incidents:

The first signs of contamination were the traces of radiation on the laboratory desk of Israeli physicist Dror Sadeh. He had taken what he thought were adequate precautions against the hyperactive element.

But those precautions weren’t enough. Radiation was discovered “in my private home, and on my hands too and on everything that I touched,” he wrote in his diary.

Within a month, one student who worked in Sadeh’s lab at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, was dead from leukemia. The lab’s supervisor died a few years later — contaminated by polonium-210 as well, Sadeh suspected.

What do we see in these earlier incidents? First we see dosages. Litvinenko ws killed by a massive dose which is still small – millionths of a gram. In spray form millionths of a gram goes out everywhere in the same dosage. We see that Po-210, which is an incredibly active and energetic material, cannot be contained and basically explodes out into a cloud that will quickly contaminate everthing in the room. It is very possible the tea Litvinenko drank became contaminated, but it is highly unlikely it was ‘a spray’ because everyone would have been getting Litvinenko level doses from a spray. Only the part of the spray that hit the tea’s surface would be that part that got into Litvinenko. The cloud described reaches over his head, across the table and onto the floor. All of these areas would see deadly or near deadly doses.

For a spray to be used then everyone in that bar would be dying. Airborne Po-210 is very, very dangerous. The pattern of contamination is NOT that of a spray but that of a solid mass of Po-210. As I have said many times, the form of the material would dictate which way this case would go. And we have another ‘spill’ in the Millenium Hotel to deal with – and that occured in Lugovoi’s room upstairs where a ‘spot’ on the carpet showed extremely high contamination, along with the door and light switch. So let’s assume the Po-210 was being examined in the hotel room before the incident in the Pine Bar and discuss a more realistic scenario.

What we see in the hotel room is someone dropping what could be a pellet of Po-210. It would contaminate what ever it touches (burning into fabrics and plastics) but would only leave a region of contamination that repesented the distance some atoms could ‘fly off’ the pellet. This seems to be the case for the hotel room. So let’s now look at the contamination around Litvinenko at the bar:

I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been a spray.”

If it was in a liquid suspension or spray it would have been on the ceiling and on everyone around the table then and later. The spray idea ignores the volatility of Po-210. This is a layman trying to understand a contamination pattern without a scientific background. What I see is not a spray pattern – it is a line of site pattern from a single point source where Litvinenko’s body and the table acts as a barrier and particles are being shot off some distance from this source. Envision a candle on a table in a dark room and where the shadows lie.

So what happened? How did the tea get contaminated? I still say Litvinenko exposed himself. The amount of Po-210 inside Litvinenko is NOT enough to change the color of tea and make it thick. That is where this tail completely falls apart. If the tea was ‘strong’ enough to thicken it would have liquified Litvinenko’s internal organs in a matter of hours. Recall tea is mostly water – even English tea. To thicken tea would require amounts of Po-210 that would make all of England deadly ill and dying. Remember Po-210 is a natural element found everywhere and doesn’t discolor things like this.

The story being put in the press is for the naive masses without a scientific background to lap up. It is a diversion that would not hold up in a court of law. Why the subterfuge by UK authorities? Why let this overwrought, imaginitive and completely implausible story run in the media? Up until now I was really hesitant to believe UK authorities had any role or connection to Litvinenko and his Po-210 dealings. But this blatant attempt to use a scientific novice’s imaganitive fiction to create the impression that the Pine Bar was the site of poisoning by Po-210 spray calls into serious question their motives. They cannot be this scientifically ignorant.

Here is a PLAUSIBLE scenario. Litvinenko was contamination in the hotel room with Lugovoi and Kovtun when the material escaped containment while be inspected. All three inhaled small amounts, but being in solid form the exposure was like that in Irene Curie’s laboratory. This happened earlier in the day and Litvinenko had particles on his body and clothes which he dropped all over London. Later in the evening when he had tea in the Pine Bar he opened the tea pot to look at it or put some sweatener in and a small granule or two of Po-210 fell off is cuff into the tea, which ended up in his GI tract and killed him.

The contamination pattern at the bar is illustrative of contamination granules on the front of Litvinenko’s clothes or person emitting outward. That looks like a large amount of Po-210 (even in spray form). But the dosage in the tea is an indicator of a granule so small it is as invisible as speck of dust is to the human eye. All Litvinenko had to do was ingest a grain of dust floating in the air. That is how lethal Po-210 is. The contamination pattern and the dosage do not immediately add up. I am not saying they don’t. But if all I had was this one ‘eyewitness’ I would find it scientifically impossible. The story he is telling makes no sense outside science fiction.

Bottom line: Po-210 in pellet or granule form is not for assassination – it is a form perfect for nuclear contraband. The UK authorities know this as well as I do. Assassination would be in a liquid suspension (easier to handle and critical to conrolling the dosage). But anyone who did a few moments of study on Po-210 liquid suspension would even once consider a spray when a simple drop would do. The pattern of contamination across London is that of a radiative source that is in a solid form, not a liquid suspension or spray. It seems one of the UK’s ‘assets’ went off the reservation and into the nuclear smuggling businesa and they just do not want that story coming out, so they have allowed this fiction to come out instead.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “New Litvinenko Eye Witness Sounds Completely Implausible”

  1. crosspatch says:

    I think you make too many assumptions in this case AJ. I think a polonium salt spray is a perfectly reasonable delivery method. The contamination level from such a spray would be nearly as much as from pure polonium in metallic form.

  2. crosspatch says:

    Having said the above, I still think there were multiple instances of exposure and once the others realized they had been contaminated, they contaminated Litvinenko with a massive dose in order to cover their own contamination to make it looks like assassination

  3. AJStrata says:


    Think about the density of the spray and the contamination field described by the waiter. The contamination ‘sphere is about 5 feet in diameter (floor to picture above Litvinenko’s head). The tea cup mouth is about 2-4 inches in diameter (maximum). While the spray would not be uniform in dispersion, it would have to be of sufficient ‘density’ to deliver maybe a 100 millionths of a gram to the tea (Litvinenko’s dosage was about 10 millionths of a gram so let’s just assume ten percent trasnfer from spray to body via tea). That Given the five foot contamination cloud around Litvinenko that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Either the spray went everywhere or it was a much higher dose to allow it to dissipate contamination that far.

    While I agree the salt form is an option, the scene as described gives me the impression of some small number of granules on Litvinenko’s clothes (trousers – shoes for the contamination on the floor, shirt and and sleaves for the table top, tea pot and picture behind him) radiating out high energy atoms which are the sources of the contamination like candles casting light and shadows. Looks to be a point source, not a spray and wind dispersion.

  4. per says:

    “This is a layman trying to understand a contamination pattern without a scientific background.”
    truer words were never spoken.
    the mean range of alpha particles in air is

  5. […] In this post I note how one government witness exposes some of the ‘evidence’ that leads the scientifically challenged UK authorities to an impossible conclusion by comparing the evidence found in the Pine Bar with other documented Po-210 contaminations which led to deaths. First the Pine Bar account: I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been a spray.” […]