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June 22, 2021

Seventy-three kilos of uranium ore stolen from Bihor depot

Experts warn about the danger of irradiation.

By    Daniela Baragan

Seventy-three kilos of uranium ore have disappeared from the Stei, Bihor County, radioactive material storage facility of the National Uranium Company (CNU), HotNews reported, quoting ebihoreanul.ro. According to the source quoted, the company became aware of the theft a week ago, yet, the incident was kept “under wraps” until yesterday by the local Police and the CNU. “The disappearance of 8 uranium ore equivalent sources (8 tubes nearly 3.5m long and 2cm circumference, with welded ends) containing circa 73.5 kilos of uranium ore was ascertained at the Sector Stei Substation, on October 26,” according to the CNU press release. The CNU holds that the ore belongs to the category of “low-activity radiation materials”, and therefore the irradiating impact of the ore in the eight tubes is “insignificant”. “The environmental radioactive contamination potential is extremely small given the small quantity of the ore and its physical form (natural rock). The environmental impact is therefore non-existent as long as the ore is contained in the tunes. Even if all the ore is released in the environment through tube cutting and destruction, it will have a low impact,” the CNU release states, according to which the National Uranium Company is investigating the circumstances in which the eight tubes disappeared, with “contravention sanctions according to the law stipulations in effect” having been taken, although the company’s officials would not elaborate on neither the measures taken nor the persons sanctioned.

The case is also under investigation by the Arms, Explosives and Dangerous Substances Service of the Bihor County Police, and by the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN) < the authority in charge of verifying compliance with security norms in the nuclear field>. Alina Dinu, spokeswoman for the Bihor County Police Department, said the inquiry is at an advanced stage and there has been identified a group of suspects. Dinu confirmed that the Police had been informed about the theft last week, yet, the alternative is also taken into account the theft may have taken place some months ago. The Police spokeswoman also said the stolen material poses no danger given the uranium contained in the ore does not exceed 3 pc of the whole material and is very difficult to extract.

The special radio active material depot at Strei was set up in the 1950s, when a uranium mine was operating to the benefit of the Soviet army.

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