Plutonium Sensors Are Caught Near Turnovo, Cesium Is Found in Kurilo
On 16 May 2002 the Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chasa reported that a stolen radioactive instrument and 100 "plutonium sensors" were seized by police during the arrest of two suspects headed for Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria in a taxi. The two suspects, 42-year-old Emil Spirov and Daniela Tsaneva, were arrested for possessing an American-made instrument containing beryllium that is used to measure soil radioactivity. The instrument had been stolen from an unspecified nuclear power plant during its construction. The National Service for Combating Organized Crime (NSCOC), which conducted the operation to arrest Spirov and Tsaneva, had been looking for the stolen instrument for two years and had been monitoring the two suspects for "a long time." The "plutonium sensors" were discovered in the car along with the stolen instrument during the police operation. According to the newspaper, experts said the sensors were made of a metal-ceramic compound and looked like gambling chips. [They are most likely sensors or detectors containing miniscule amounts of plutonium.] The article also noted that the sensors were in three wooden frames that "looked like grills and were 40/20/10 [as published] in size." The third of these containers was open, and several "chips" were missing. The authors of the article speculate that Spirov and Tsaneva had probably given them to clients as samples. According to the report, the background radiation near the vehicle at the time of the arrest measured 100 times above the maximum admissible level. However, AFP reported that radiation level was 1,000 times "above normal." AFP also quoted police as alleging that the "plutonium" originated from the Moscow company Isotop.
 "Taxi with Plutonium Smugglers 1,000 Times above Normal Radiation Level," Agence France Presse, 16 May 2002, in Lexis-Nexis International News, http://web.lexis-nexis.com.
Abstract Number: 20020590
Headline: Plutonium Sensors Are Caught Near Turnovo, Cesium Is Found in Kurilo
Date: 16 May 2002
Bibliography: 24 Chasa, p. 5; in "Bulgarian Police Seize Nuclear Material, Instrument," FBIS Document EUP20020516000350
Author: Vladi Andreeva and Slavi Angelov
Material: radioactive isotope, plutonium
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2011 by MIIS.
This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.
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