Two men detained not carrying active uranium – police

2013-11-19 13:59

Two men arrested on suspicion of possessing uranium weren’t holding active material.

“It was stored in a plastic packet, pure mined uranium, it was not active,” the police said today via email. “It was immediately taken by the SA Nuclear Energy Corp.”

The two foreign nationals, both in their twenties, appeared in court yesterday in Durban and will remain in custody until December 3, pending a bail application. The suspects were arrested on Thursday as they tried to find a buyer for a package they claimed contained the radioactive metal.

Uranium is usually sold as an oxide concentrate, a powder form known as yellow cake, and must undergo a series of processes before being used in a reactor for electricity generation. Nuclear plants generate about 11% of global power, according to the World Nuclear Association.

In South Africa, the metal is mainly mined as a by-product of gold extraction.

“The incidence of illegal uranium trading is very low as the material is accounted for under safeguards from all mines all the way through to nuclear fuel,” Phumzile Tshelane, chief executive officer of SA Nuclear Energy, said yesterday in an email.

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