Radioactive Cesium found in Germany.
(May 30, 1997) In the German city Hettstedt a bar filled with radioactive cesium-137 was found at a firm that deals with copper metal recycling. The bar, filled with some grams of cesium (3,19 x 1012 per gram), was found in a load of copper brought by two Dutch truckdrivers. However, the identity of the drivers was unknown for some days, authorities feared they might have exposed to very high doses of radiation. Police authorities in Germany and the Netherlands started immediately searching the drivers as they had to contact a medical doctor. The drivers were found and would not have been contaminated with cesium. According to the German ministry of environ-ment, this found of radioactive cesium would be one of the three biggest worldwide since 1983.
Trouw (NL), 23 May 1997 / Trouw (NL), 24 May 1997 / Gelders Dagblad (NL), 27 May 1997.
US criticism of Sweden's phase-out. US ambassador to Sweden Thomas Siebert criticized the planned phasing out of the Barsebäck nuclear power plant. Speaking on the Swedish television news program Rapport, he said: "The closure of the nuclear power plant sends very negative signals to companies that could be interested in investing in Sweden."
Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson accused Siebert of interfering in Sweden's domestic affairs by criticizing the decision.
Later the US embassy in Stockholm issued a statement denying that Siebert had intended to criticize the Swedish government. "The ambassador was careful to point out that such a decision is a matter for Sweden to decide, not the United States," it said. It added, however, that he was reflecting the views of American business that future US investment in Sweden could be damaged if energy prices rose as a result of the nuclear plant closure.
Reuter, 22 May 1997
Dounreay 1962 cover-up. Previously confidential documents released by the government earlier this year have revealed a concerted effort to cover up details of the death of a Dounreay worker in 1962 whose widow had been campaigning for 35 years for compensation and an admission by Dounreay that her husband died of leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation.
Alexander Gillen died in 1962 and "radiation sickness" was given as the cause on the death certificate. The newly released documents, published at length in the local press, show that even before his death, after Gillen had made a legal statement about an unreported radiation incident. UKAEA and government officials were concerned about the legal, financial and political significance and worked to reduce the damage and cover up the information about the case.
One reason concerned a Windscale (Sellafield) worker who had died of leukemia shortly before Gillen. The pension medical board had found against the UKAEA in that case and officials were concerned to stop a similar result in Gillen's case.
N-Base Briefing, May 1997
Sabotage or vandalism? Authorities in North Carolina (US) increased security over a planned low level radioactive waste site at Wake County. This measure was taken following a few acts of what was called þvandalismþ. A small bulldozer was driven into a 1.80-meter deep trench used for geological mapping. Later, a fire was set and destroyed an US$8,000 data logger used to take well measurements. It burned three to five acres of underbrush, too.
Nucleonics Week, 24 April 1997
Congratulations, Nikitin! On April 14 Alexander Nikitin was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. Nikitin is working for the Bellona Foundation on radioactive pollution by the Russian Northern Fleet, and was thrown in jail by the former KGB in February 1996. He was released on December 14, 1996, and is awaiting his court case. Nikitin replied in Petersburg: "The Goldman Prize is a welcome acknowledgment of the work we have done in Bellona. It is a confirmation of the fact that the damage our planet suffered (...), can only be repaired through our acting together."
The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world's largest prize program honoring grassroots environmentalists. It was founded in 1990 and the winners are selected from nominations by a network of internationally known environmental organizations and a confidential panel of environmental experts.