The Internal Security Services (ISS) found an 85-kilo container, designed to hold radioactive material, dug into the ground near the border of the Estonian capital. The barrel posed no direct danger to either people or the environment.
ISS located the container with radioactive cesium isotope (Cs.137) on December 17.
ISS has launched an investigation into how the container, which has never been in legal use in Estonia, came to be buried.
According to Tõnu Miilvee from ISS, such containers are in limited use in factories and medical establishments in other countries, but always under very strict scrutiny. He said some countries have come across a problem of radioactive material disappearing from legal circulation for unknown reasons. “We have not observed this in Estonia over the last decades but earlier, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, during more chaotic times, some material did go missing,” he added.
“In this case, ISS received information that this type of radioactive material and this type of container may be in circulation, and when following up that lead, we found the source,” Miilvee said.
He stressed that although it is too early to say anything about the people responsible, it is clear that to ISS that the container had not been discarded, but purposefully stored away.
According to Miilvee, the container is meant to shield radioactive substance in order to make its transport safe for people. The container itself posed no direct environmental threat. “However, there is always the indirect threat that when something like this is in the hands of someone who should not have it, the substance may end up with people with bad intentions, and that can cause a lot of problems,” he explained.
For the benefit of the investigation, ISS has not disclosed the exact location of the find.
Editor: M. Oll