Portugal has 200 tons of radioactive material in “poorly-secured” warehouse

As the country wakes up to the heightened threat of terrorism, a television news team has presented a frightening report on a “poorly secured” warehouse near Viseu that holds enough radioactive material to “paralyse the country”.

It is not the immediate dangers of yellowcake uranium that alerted RTP’s SIC às 9 – but the importance the haul could have for terrorists.

As the team pointed out, the seizure by Islamic state militia of just 40 kilos of uranium at the University of Mosul in Iraq last July was very bad news. But a heist involving 200 tons would be a complete disaster.

Nonetheless, the material “capable of provoking a radiological attack of large dimensions” sits in a rundown warehouse with no “emergency plan” elaborated by the authorities – and a “human presence” in the form of a security guard only guaranteed after 4pm.

According to Sexta às 9, the site in Urgeiriça is easy to gain access to, protected only by a fence and monitored by CCTV cameras – a number of which are out of order.

This is not the only danger present in the former mining community, adds RTP. Fourteen years since the mines closed, many local families “suffer the consequences of radioactivity liberated” during the process, with many registering cases of cancer.

But as to the future of Portugal’s only stock of uranium concentrate, geostrategist Loureiro dos Santos told Sexta às 9 that the current situation where a small quantity of uranium could be “easily removed” with “grave consequences” is simply “not tolerable”.

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By NATASHA DONN [email protected]