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Cablegate: Arrests Made After Radioactive Dumping - Clean-Up And

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DE RUEHKI #1291 3241307
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201307Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7141
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001291

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EMIN PGOV CG
SUBJECT: ARRESTS MADE AFTER RADIOACTIVE DUMPING - CLEAN-UP AND
SEARCH FOR MISSING ORE CONTINUE

1. (U) Didace Pembe, GDRC Minister of the Environment, announced
November 9 that police had arrested seven people, including law
enforcement officers, in connection with the illegal dumping of
roughly four tons of radioactive waste in the Katanga province.
Pembe said those arrested included all who were "charged with
disposing of these minerals." The seven charged have been in
custody for ten days, but the search continues for another thirteen
to fifteen tons of waste.

2. (U) GDRC authorities in Likasi, Katanga province, seized between
seventeen and nineteen tons of mineral ore with levels of
radioactivity far exceeding government limits in late October, and
ordered it to be sealed in the Shinkolobwe mining site. (Note: Most
copper and cobalt ore mined for and produced in the Katanga Province
has traces of uranium and is measurably radioactive due to
associated radioactive substances, such as radium. End note.) The
personnel charged with transporting the radioactive waste dumped
roughly four tons over a bridge into the Mura River six miles south
of Likasi when they could not access the closed uranium mine.
Chinese-owned Magma Company and Indian-owned Chemaf, registered
owners of the copper/cobalt ore, never took possession after the ore
had left Kolwezi and before it was confiscated in Likasi. Magma and
Chemaf have not commented on the dumping.

3. (U) The radioactive waste continues to threaten the drinking
water for the 300,000 residents of Likasi, where one of the pumping
stations uses water from the Mura River. Pembe made public
statements on local radio and television stations to inform the
local population and to prevent further consumption from the
affected water station. A team of experts from the Ministry of the
Environment and DRC's Atomic Energy Agency set up a quarantine zone
around the dumping site, and says a clean-up is underway.

4. (SBU) Comment. Some EU diplomats in the DRC suspect the Chinese
company may be somehow involved, but the connection between
copper/cobalt ore with abnormally high levels of radioactivity and
companies from two nuclear powers is tenuous. The dumping was
likely a result of the transportation crew's difficulties in
accessing the secure Shinkolobwe site. The GDRC made arrests
quickly, and the Minister of the Environment has been active in
finding solutions to both the clean-up and the missing ore. End
Comment.

BROCK

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