This botched scare story keeps cropping up every few months it seems....
Anyone who can read (journalists excepted, it seems), can look up the fact that Os-187 is nonradioactive, comprising 1.64% of natural osmium (the largest components being Os-192, 41.0% and Os-190, 26.4%).
As Franz Schoenhofer explained on 11 July 2002, there is a very simple explanation of the Os-187 fraud: "The original (radioactive) source was Cs-137 and the engraving on it was changed very easily to Os-187 by converting the C to an O (you understand how easy this is) and the 3 to 8 (easy as well)."
Bjorn Cedervall found a story that time, according to which "In September 1993, Lev Savenkov, a vice mayor of the city, was caught on the Finnish border with 8 grams of osmium-187, used to make pen points and electric light filaments, estimated by customs to be worth about $500,000."
Interesting how criminals can fool the media, but apparently not the authorities who caught them.
Russians seize dangerous isotope
One person detained in city of Omsk with unspecified amount of osmium-187
ASSOCIATED PRESS [The Montreal Gazette, 1 March, 2003]
Moscow - Russia's Federal Security Service said yesterday that it had seized osmium-187, an isotope often portrayed as a valuable potential component in nuclear terrorism and counterfeit Iraqi money. Federal Security Service officers in the Siberian city of Omsk, about 2,250 kilometres east of Moscow, detained one person with an unspecified amount of osmium-187, said Natalya Grutsina, a spokesperson for the Omsk branch of the security service, which is known by the Russian acronym FSB. Another person was detained with 158,000 Iraqi dinars, the equivalent of about $80 Cdn, which a preliminary
analysis showed to be fake, she said. Both people belonged to the same gang, Grutsina said. They have been charged with rare-metals smuggling and counterfeiting.
Russian officials have frequently sounded the alarm about illicit trade in osmium-187, a member of the platinum metals group that is mined in Norilsk Nickel, in Russia's Arctic North and the Kazakhmys plant in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. The isotope is very expensive, bringing $220,000 Cdn - $300,000 Cdn per gram, but international experts say it has no nuclear fission applications and is most useful as an object of criminal scams.