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Friday, 12 December, 1997, 07:34 GMT
Russian kept seven tonnes of stolen radioactive material in garage

Police in Siberia have confiscated seven tonnes of a radioactive concentrate of niobium from a businessman in Irkutsk.

The Russian news agency Interfax said the man had kept the material in his garage for over a year.

He had stolen it from a mine in Irkutsk region and had taken it to the city on Wednesday where he had found a buyer, the agency said.

The material was emitting radiation at a rate of 900 microroentgens an hour.

This quantity of niobium is worth approximately six billion roubles, but the thief had agreed to sell it for only 150 million, Interfax said.

He was arrested after police stopped his truck by chance in an area of the city near last weekend's plane crash.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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