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40 kg of monazite found at house in Saitama Pref.+.

TOKYO, June 20 Kyodo

Police discovered two boxes containing some 40 kilograms of monazite, a radioactive material, in a man's home in Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture, in the course of investigations into the mailing of the substance to 10 government offices earlier this month, police said.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) found the material after questioning another man, a 73-year-old who describes himself as an adviser to a dormant organization.

The man is believed to be an acquaintance of Hiroshi Ikeda, 84, head of the Nihon Bosei Bunka Kyokai foundation, who has already been questioned.

Police suspect Ikeda has violated a law regulating nuclear reactors and nuclear-related facilities, police sources said.

Police said they have obtained a copy of a document describing the location and quantity of stores of monazite.

The document said that "3 tons of monazite is stored in a private storage facility in Hanyu, Saitama Prefecture," according to police.

Police said the Hanyu man, self-employed, was asked by the 73-year-old man around last summer to keep four cardboard boxes at his home. The Hanyu man returned one of the four boxes around May.

The 73-year-old man told the Hanyu man, "What is inside these boxes is gold dust."

The MPD's antiterrorist team detected radioactivity measuring 30-40 microsievert per hour near two of the three boxes loaded in a first-floor storage room in the Hanyu man's two-story home.

The team believes the third box does not contain monazite because little radioactivity was detected.

Of some 40 tons of monazite extracted, police have discovered some 15 tons in Nagano Prefecture and about 1 ton in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture.

Monazite contains very small amounts of uranium and thorium, nuclear fuel materials.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Jun 26, 2000
Words:280
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