A strange story hit the news last month and then seemed to vanish. There were reports that stated 73 kilograms of radioactive uranium ore had been stolen from a mine operated by CNU, Romania’s National Uranium company, in western Romania. Eight 3.5-metre-long cylinders containing uranium ore were found to be missing from a storage facility operated by CNU near the Baita Plai mine.
Police spokeswoman Alina Dinu said the uranium, stored in eight metal pipes, was not enriched. She said the theft had been discovered on October 26. Florin Dobra, an official at the Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities told Antena 3: “the potential for radioactive contamination in the environment is extremely limited.” The uranium had been stored in a bunker at the plant in Stei, western Romania, he said, adding the theft could have occurred up to three months ago.
The story was briefly featured but then dropped from the news very quickly. There was a short investigation by ProTV in which one of the managers from the Nuclear Control Office revealed that at any time Uranium or radioactive ore could disappear. The same employee is saying that there is no control of radioactive materials in Romania as the mines have been abandoned by the government.
The ProTV reporter visited one of the mines with an old local miner and they found clothes, footsteps, traces from the wheel of the wheelbarrow, and plenty of other signs that someone interested in the ore had been inside there. We do not know how recently, but not long!
Curiosity led us to look at the background. In the 1950’s the Russians started to exploit the precious radioactive ore in line with the contract that was signed to cancel the debts Romania had to pay back to USSR. With this deal over now the mines are not in use anymore and they are effectively open for any person who wants to go inside. Most of the mines are unprotected, and the ones that are protected are ‘’guarded ‘’ by two guys, sitting at the gate in a kiosk, but if you walk around the mine premises, there are no fences, so its free access. Welcome to Romania!!
This is not the first case, so authorities cannot plead ignorance. In March 2008, the UK Government sent a MI6 team in Romania, tracing dealers interested in Uranium. MI6 stated that Raul Reyes, a columbium terrorist leader, visited Romania in January 2008 where he met a Ukrainian dealer in order to buy uranium to build a bomb. Reyes was later found dead in Columbia, and all the information about this operation was made public.
So, nobody has seen or heard a thing, and until now nobody managed to trace the stolen uranium. The fact remains that 73,5 kg of uranium ore can give you over 3kg of pure uranium which is more than 200 grams of 235 isotope uranium. This is enough to make lovely nuclear bomb.
We are not sure if lack of news regarding this is really because there are no real safety issues linked to the loss or if has been covered up to prevent embarrassment. EURATOM, the European Atomic Energy Agency, announced their support of a new nuclear power plant shortly after the loss was discovered – the last thing that anyone would have wanted would be a cancellation due to the loss of a few kilos…
We found the fact that it may have been missing for three months slightly worrying, but whichever way you look at it, there appears to be some uranium up for grabs if anyone needs some…