24 May 2008

China: 15 Radioactive Material Sites Inaccessible

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Depkafile reveals that China’s recent earthquake impacted a large number of Chinese facilities containing radioactive materials, including nuclear weapons plants, and a significant number of the sites impacted by the disaster remain to be secured.

Eleven days after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck western China, vice environment minister Wu Xiaoqing first revealed Friday, May 23, that 50 hazardous radioactive sources have been located – 35 recovered and controlled; “three more buried in rubble and 12 in dangerous buildings. At present, tests show no accidental release of radiation,” he reported as the death toll climbed past 55,000.

Two of the most badly damaged cities housed China’s secret nuclear weapons design facility – at Mianyang – and a plutonium processing facility – in Guangyuan – both close to the quake’s epicenter.

Soon after the quake struck, Chinese soldiers were sent to protect nuclear sites and preparations made for an environmental emergency.

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that the Beijing announcement did not specify the nature of the hazardous sources or disclose how they – or the secret nuclear weapons and plutonium facilities were secured – whether sealed with cement and lead like the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine in the 80s or their contents removed to safe places.

According to the Beijing government’s official Web site, “nuclear facilities and “radioactive sources” included power plants, reactors, scientific research labs and medical treatment facilities, a big concentration of which are located in the worst hit areas.

French sources disclosed that 489 hospitals with laboratories containing radioactive materials, as well as hundreds of high-risk industries, were leveled.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear arms expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said it was hard to believe that the military plants with nuclear materials had escaped the disaster. Other experts suspect that the damage to radioactive sites and radiation leaks may extend beyond the stricken Sichuan province.

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