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International

Radioactive Waste Dumped in the Baltic?

Published torsdag 4 februari 2010 kl 10.02
A Russian submarine near Helsinki

Updated 15:10

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt denies that he had any knowledge of the radioactive waste and chemical weapons, that Swedish Television reports say could have been dumped in the Baltic Sea by the Russian military as late as the 1990s.

According to Swedish Television's programme Uppdrag Granskning, the Swedish government at the time was aware of the dumping, but the Ministry of Defence decided it would be too difficult to investigate the matter.

Swedish secret service agent Donald Forsberg holds that the Russians unloaded the chemicals near the island of Gotland between the years 1989 and 1992. "They just sailed out at night and dumped in two areas," he told the television programme.

The archives of the Swedish military intelligence service MUST house three separate secret reports that describe the night-time sinking of barrels with chemical weapons and radioactive waste.

Although then Minister of Defence Björn von Sydow does not remember the incident, the former Foreign Minister's political advisor, Sven Olof Pettersson, clearly remembers Anna Lindh's anger at the reports.

She wanted the matter to be investigated, he says, but the Ministry of Defence replied that it would be too difficult and too costly to find the chemical waste without knowing its exact location.

On Thursday, the current Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, said he did not want to comment further on the reports, until he had heard from representatives of the government at the time, regarding why it decided not to act on the information.

A proposed gas pipeline from Russia will not pass through the area in question off the coast of Gotland, though there are plans to lay a fiberoptic cable nearby.

On Thursday, a leading Russian scientist told Swedish Radio News that he does not believe that any nuclear waste was dumped in the early 90-ies. Aleksej Jablokov is currently part of the leadership of the Green Party in the opposition in Russia.

But for a few years in the beginning of the 90-ies he was advisor to the then President Jeltsin on environmental issues and he lead an inquiry into the dumping of nuclear waste in the Arctic Ocean and the Western pacific.

This is a big problem according to Jablokov. But when it comes to the Baltic Sea, only smaller quantities of waste with low level of radioactivity was dumped, but that was back in the 50-ies and 60-ies, according to Aleksej Jablokov.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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