Bulgarian Customs Stop Truck Carrying Radioactive Cargo

Crime | July 19, 2006, Wednesday // 00:00

Bulgaria's customs officers intercepted early Wednesday morning a Turkish truck carrying radioactive material, as the driver was attempting to cross the border with Romania at the Danube Bridge checkpoint at Russe.

The truck's hazardous load triggered an alarm while it passed the radioactive check system and the customs officers alerted the Nuclear Regulatory Agency(NRA), officials from the agency announced. The radioactive emissions were three to ten times higher than the natural gamma-background of Russe. The truck was going from England to Turkey.

Emissions were strongest at the front of the truck where experts believe that the cargo is located. The strongest emission measured right next to the cargo is 28 mSv/h, which is about 200 times higher than the natural gamma background of the regions. Three meters away from the truck, however, the levels fall back within the normal values.

Spectral analysis have shown that the truck is carrying radioactive source 137Cs, and have detected a source of neutron emission. Later tests revealed that the cargo included the radioactive source 137Cs with a 10-mCi activity and a neutron source 241Am:Be with a 40-mCi activity. Experts shared that these materials are often used in measurements such as industrial radiographs and hospital X-ray photographs. This, however still hasn't been confirmed by the NRA.

Normally transporting such cargo requires special permission by the regulatory bodies of all the countries along the route. The driver, however showed no such papers. The NRA is now investigating the case.

The truck has been placed in a safe house at the border checkpoint area, and there is no danger to the population of Russe or the environment.

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