A group of three Dutch scrap metal dealers has been arrested following a police investigation into the dumping of 25 tonnes of radioactive metal. The material probably came from a shipbreaking facility, according to the nuclear safety authority ANVS.
Scrap dealers from three different Dutch provinces are suspected of involvement in selling radioactive scrap metal for cash despite serious radiation risks. The police described the material as ballast blocks used by ships, and ensures that all the tainted scrap has been safely confiscated. It is believed that a Dutch demolition company in Drenthe initiated the illegal scrap scheme; it had mixed the hazardous scrap with ordinary metal so it might get rid of the waste as cheaply as possible.
When the scrap reached a metal dealer in the Friesland region, however, the operator was promptly alerted by his radiation detection system that the batch was not as innocent as it seemed.
Police representative Anne van der Meer states that tainted scrap was recovered from multiple scrap yards, and that there is ‘no danger to the public or the environment.’
According to government figures, there were a total of 21 ‘unusual’ incidents reported in the Netherlands in 2017 said to be related to nuclear materials. In these luckily low-risk-category cases, scrap metal wasn’t the cause for the problem, but rather a glitch in operations at power plants and R&D facilities.