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Highly radioactive material missing in DR Congo

by Staff Writers
Kinshasa (AFP) Nov 14, 2007
Some 15 tonnes of highly radioactive material have disappeared after being seized last month in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's environment minister said Wednesday.

"We still have no information on the 15 to 16 tonnes of radioactive minerals from the 19 tonnes seized in Katanga," Didace Pembe told AFP.

The minister said about four of the 19 tonnes had been "discharged in the Mura River".

Samples had shown the copper ore's radioactivity level to be 50 times above what is authorised. The minerals had been seized in late October and were to be buried at a secure site.

But earlier this month, the team transporting the minerals to an ex-uranium mine at Shinkolobwe, closed since the 1960s, dumped part of the load in the river.

Seven people suspected of being involved in the affair, including law enforcement officers, were arrested last week.

The Mura River is located about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Likasi, a city of more than 300,000 residents. One of the pumping stations that provides drinking water for the city draws from the river.

The minister has announced a ban on water from the pumping station.

Most of the minerals had been registered under the name of Chinese company Magma. They had come from a mine in Kolwezi, near Likasi.

Several foreign mining companies operate in the Katanga area, which has large mineral reserves, including copper ore, cobalt, uranium, gold and zinc.

Congolese uranium was used to build the US atom bomb which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.


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Tehran mayor latest conservative to criticise Ahmadinejad
Tehran (AFP) Nov 14, 2007
The mayor of Tehran, a powerful Iranian conservative, has sharply criticised the confrontational foreign policy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling for more "maturity and intelligence".

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