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Highly radioactive substance found at Swiss dump: Report

Published on Jun 1, 2014 9:34 PM

GENEVA (AFP) - A highly radioactive substance, emitting in some places radiation at 100 times the permitted amount, has been discovered in Switzerland, local media reported on Sunday, adding that the authorities had covered it up for 18 months.

Swiss weeklies Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung reported that federal, regional and local officials decided not to reveal the fact that they had found radium deposits in an old dump in the town of Bienne, so as not to scare the 50,000 local inhabitants.

"120kg of radioactive waste was obtained after sorting. We measured doses of several hundred microsieverts at the source," Mr Daniel Dauwalder, a spokesman for the Swiss federal office for public health (OFSP), told Le Matin Dimanche.

In certain places, measurements of 300 microsieverts per hour were taken, more than 100 times the permitted amount for an old dump, the newspapers reported. Exposure for three hours to that level of radiation would be equivalent to the tolerable level over a whole year.

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