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Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, April 19, 2002

Nuclear Terror: US Ships High-Radiation Device to China by Mistake

Recently the US reported two losses of high-radiation devices which strained the nerve of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. One is a measuring instrument containing Cs-137 high-radiation material lost by a paper plant in Wisconsin, which was later found shipped to China, but fortunately kept untouched in a safe place.


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Nuclear terror has been a focus of public concern since the "September 11" incident. Recently the US reported two losses of high-radiation devices which strained the nerve of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

One is a measuring instrument containing Cs-137 high-radiation material lost by a paper plant in Wisconsin, which was later found shipped to China, but fortunately kept untouched in a safe place. The other is a box containing Ir-192 found in a shop of second-hand articles, and disastrous results would had been caused if the shop owner haven't called police quickly.

Cs-137 shipped to China by mistake
The North America StoraEnso, with its headquarter in Wisconsin, is a subsidiary company of Sweden-Finland StoraEnso, a world famous paper producer. Last year the company sold equipment of a factory to a Chinese paper plant. The equipment, according to agreements, should be dismembered entirely and then shipped to China. However, workers in charge of this didn't notice the eye-attracting yellow alarm mark and didn't adopt any measure for the Cs-137 measuring instrument fastened on a metal tube. As a result, it was loaded and shipped to China together with other devices.

Last January inspectors of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission found the high-radiation device was missing. On January 31 representatives of StoraEnso rushed to the Chinese plant, finding the device still fastened on steel beam, untouched.

StoraEnso has 10 to 20 such instruments containing Cs-137, mainly used to measure pulp density and paper thickness, according to the company spokesman. The one shipped to China, camara-sized, may cause harm to human body in many aspects if carelessly opened, even death.

Cs-137 is a kind of high-radiation material which brings great harm if improperly used, experts say. If seeped into soil, it could remain centuries in natural environment, even join in food chain.

The reporter tried to contact South America StoraEnso by telephone to learn how the company dealt with the case, but couldn't get through.

The device didn't cause harm since it was fastened in a sheltered place, according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company, after finding the device, sealed it immediately and put it in safe place. Now concerned parties are talking how to ship it back safely to Wisconsin.



By PD Online Staff Li Heng


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