Uranium pellets not dangerous to humans – Investigation by European Institute for Transuranium Elements: Pellets fabricated in Siemens’ former plant in Hanau
The uranium pellets found on a private property in the town of Lauenförde in Lower Saxony are not dangerous to humans. According to the results of an investigation conducted by The European Institute for Transuranium Elements, the 14 pellets found in the garden of Hermann F. originate from Siemens’ former nuclear fuel production plant in Hanau. From 1969 to 1994, Siemens produced up to 200 million uranium pellets per year at its nuclear fuel plant in Hanau. Since then, the plant has been completely decommissioned and released from the obligations of the German Atomic Energy Act.
The 14 pellets found in Lower Saxony at no time represented a dangerous amount. The only slightly enriched pellets are not dangerous to humans because uranium is a so-called alpha emitter, and alpha particles cannot penetrate human skin. Groundwater contamination can also be ruled out because the pellets are very stable as ceramic elements. Examinations by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Environment revealed no contamination of the soil in the garden where the uranium pellets were buried.
How the 14 pellets could be stolen from the former nuclear fuel plant has not been determined yet. Audits conducted by international oversight authorities (EURATOM, IAEA) never provided a reason for objecting to inventoried amounts. Government authorities and experts regularly checked security precautions and security measures at the Hanau plant; and they complied with the approval status at all times.
However, this evidently could not prevent a small amount of uranium from being transported through plant security without detection.
Internal investigations show that, from 1987 to today, Hermann F. was not employed by Siemens Hanau nor that he worked for third-party companies at the Hanau plant. Siemens is fully supporting public prosecutors in the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the theft of the uranium pellets.
The Power Generation Group (PG) of Siemens AG is one of the premier companies in the international power generation sector. In fiscal 2006 (which ended September 30), Siemens PG posted sales amounting to more than EUR10 billion and received new orders totaling EUR12.5 billion. Group profit amounted to EUR782 million. On September 30, 2006, PG had a work force of approximately 36,400 worldwide. Further information at: www.siemens.com/powergeneration
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