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GREECE: PLUTONIUM AND AMERICIUM FOUND BURRIED IN FOREST.

On Saturday 27 January, an EEAE team and experts from the University of Salonika's Atomic Energy Laboratory recovered a quantity of highly radioactive metal plates buried under between 5 and 50 cm of earth. The recovery team transferred the plates the following day under police escort to the Democritos nuclear energy facility for safe storage. Analysis of the plates revealed the presence of a total of about 3 grams of plutonium and americium. EEAE President Leonidas Kamarinopoulos indicated that the presence of plutonium is particularly dangerous. Used as fissile material in atomic bombs and nuclear reactors, plutonium, which does not occur naturally, is highly carcinogenic. Americium is likewise a radioactive derivative. The EEAE has taken steps to remove the substances from Greek soil.The Minister for the Macedonia-Thrace region, Georges Paschalidis, convened a meeting in Salonika of representatives of the anti-fraud brigade, the police and atomic experts. SDOE Director Dimitris Batselis indicated that the recovery of the radioactive material was possible thanks to information sent to the Directorate, but that his services has not yet been able to determine the provenance of the material, which doubtless hails from abroad. The police have been alerted and has opened an enquiry. One possible scenario is that the plates were "imported" from a former Soviet-bloc country, according to a Greek expert questioned by Agence France Presse (AFP) under the cloak of anonymity.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Feb 6, 2001
Words:229
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