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Belgian radioactive leak more serious than first thought

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Belgian radioactive leak more serious than first thought


In Belgium, a leak of radioactive material has prompted warnings not to eat vegetables and drink milk from the affected area. The warning was issued for an area within five kilometres of the nuclear medicine institute in Fleurus in southern Belgium. Police toured the streets relaying the advice over loudspeakers.

The leak occurred last weekend at the facility that makes radioisotopes used by hospitals to treat cancer. It was described as “serious” by the Belgian nuclear control agency. Tests later in the week showed the contamination was worse than originally thought.

After meeting with experts, the mayor of the town of 20,000, Jean-Luc Borremans, said he had been told that there is no danger and only precautionary measures are needed.

One resident was philosophical and said: “There’s always pollution, all the time, you live with it every day; we’ll see how things turn out.” But he did say he would obey the food ban.

Another man said: “I didn’t take it very seriously at first and thought it was a little bit of a joke, but now I’m wondering if I should be worried. I’m not exactly panicking, but I’m going to pay more attention now.”

Production at the facility was halted after the leak. It is the second largest maker of medical radioisotopes in the world and as a result hospitals in several countries could face shortages.

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