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Russia Radioactive Cesium Missing

May 14, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Six metal drums of radioactive cesium have disappeared from a Russian oil refinery, company officials said Thursday.

The drums each contain 330 pounds of Cesium-137, an isotope used to process coke at the plant in Volgograd, 550 miles southeast of Moscow.

The containers disappeared in the past week, Vladimir Zyazin, the refinery’s chief engineer, told the NTV television station.

The isotope is not typically used to manufacture weapons but it is dangerous to those exposed to it, the company said.

Numerous containers of radioactive material have disappeared from metallurgy plants, hospitals and other facilities in the former Soviet Union in recent years. Police say thieves mistakenly believe the material can be sold as nuclear technology.

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