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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon company hands over recently-found radioactive material to atomic energy agency

Lebanon was alarmed by the radioactive finding [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 March, 2021

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Recently discovered chemical materials in Lebanon sparked concern and fears.
Recently discovered radioactive materials - which sparked fears and panic in Lebanon - are now in the possession of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission, authorities said Monday.

A mysterious chemical substance was recently uncovered at the Zahrani oil installation in southern Lebanon, which caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab warned could be "dangerous and nuclear".

The Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission was tasked with investigating the material, with state security and intelligence overseeing the handover.

On Monday, Dr. Omar Al-Samad from the commission said that scientists found Acetate Uranyl and Uranium in the material and assured it is radioactive but "non-dangerous".

"The Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission came to take the materials that were unknown, and after taking samples and analyzing them in our labs, found that they were radioactive and non-dangerous materials," Al-Samad said according to The Daily Star.
The chemicals are believed to have ended up in Lebanon after an American company ran the Zahrani refinery in the 1950s and 1960s.

It only emerged again after the Lebanese prime minister ordered all institutions and companies in the country to reveal potentially dangerous material, after the August 2020 Beirut blast.

The explosion - which destroyed large parts of the capital - was caused by the dangerous storage of an ammonium oxide stockpile, sparking authorities to hunt for other hazardous substances in Lebanon.

The investigation into the explosion has been hit by deadlock amid blame and counter-blame.

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