Expatica news

Belgium ‘loses track’ of depleted uranium shipment

9 June 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium has lost track of 1,457kg of depleted uranium sent from the US, it emerged on Thursday.

According to the francophone daily ‘La Libre Belgique’, an independent American agency – the US-International Trade Commission – registered the consignment destined for Belgium in 2002.

However, the organisation in Belgium which is responsible for supervising the importation, transit and transportation of nuclear waste had no record of the uranium.

The AFCN, the federal agency for nuclear control, has admitted it had no trace of the 1,457kg and had to contact the American Embassy for details of the consignment.

Director Jean-Paul Samain said: “We think it was most probably radioactive material which – for one reason or another – would not have been declared when it arrived in the port of Antwerp and which was sent off again without even being unloaded. This kind of incident is very rare.”

Samain’s admission came after social democrat MP Koen T’Sijen (SPA) questioned interior minister Patrick Dewael over the issue.

Samain insisted that the depleted uranium was of little danger to humans. “It’s not very radioactive,” he said. “It’s nothing like plutonium or natural uranium.”

‘La Libre Belgique’ reported that in Belgium, usually there was only one destination for such deliveries – Belgonucleaire, which uses uranium to produce mox.

AFCN said in those cases the material is well packaged and the transport is organised with a lot of discretion. A small part of depleted uranium is used to reinforce plane tails and noses.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news