Germany probes radioactive steel exported by India

February 16th, 2009 - 12:47 am ICT by IANS  

Berlin, Feb 15 (DPA) Germany is investigating 150 tonnes of steel items imported from India which were contaminated with radioactivity, the Der Spiegel news magazine said in a report to be published in its Monday issue.

It said the most serious case was five tonnes of stainless steel wool which had to be disposed of by a nuclear waste company, GNS.

The contamination was thought to be the result of the radioactive isotope cobalt 60, which is used in nuclear medicine, being inadvertently mixed with steel scrap and being melted down at three Indian steel works.

Anyone near the container of steel wool, which had been intercepted in August last year in the German port of Hamburg, would have received one millisievert of radiation in 24 hours.

Spiegel said German regulations treated more that one millisievert in an entire year as unsafe.

Federal investigators had traced contaminated steel valves, castings, stainless-steel rope, machine parts and steel shavings in 12 of Germany’s 16 states, but most of the parts were not inherently dangerous, with radioactivity below the safety limits.

The steel products had been confiscated, the magazine said, but negotiations were still under way on what to do next.

Radioactive products from India were also discovered last year in France, Netherlands and Sweden.

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