Sources 'made safe' in Sichuan

21 May 2008

[Xinhua News Agency, Associated Press, 19 May; Reuters 23 May] UPDATED: The Chinese government has now located 50 radioactive sources in the area affected by the recent earthquake in Sichuan. Wu Xiaoqing, vice environment minister, insisted the situation was under control after experts and equipment were drafted in from nearby areas, and there had been no accidental releases of radiation or uncontrolled hazardous leaks. "Thirty-five of the radiation sources have been recovered, and the location of another 15 has been confirmed, but they have not yet been recovered," Wu told a news conference in Beijing. "Three (of the 15) are buried in rubble and another 12 are in dangerous buildings, which staff cannot go into," he added. Earlier this week the official Xinhua agency had reported 32 radiation sources were buried under the rubble in Sichuan. The radioactive sources were thought to be for civilian use, such as those used in hospitals, industrial processes or research, and not associated with any military facitilities in the earthquake-affected region. On 17 May a senior Chinese military officer said that all nuclear facilities in the region were "safe and secure". Ma Jian, deputy director of the Combat Department of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), said that nuclear facilities in the region had be put under "strict protection" by armed police and the People's Liberation Army. Ma said that there had been only minor damage to military facilities in the region.