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Published October 29, 2007 11:11 PM

Honduras finds radioactive material in container

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras authorities have found strong traces of radioactive material in a Hong Kong-bound shipping container carrying steel debris from an Atlantic coast port, officials said on Monday.

During a security scan on Sunday, officials detected high readings of radioactivity emanating from the container at the Puerto Cortes port, 115 miles north of Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We immediately declared an alert and have seized the container for inspection," Edwin Araque, the manager of Honduras' port authority, said on Monday.

The container belonged to a local company.

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Docks and ports across the world are scanned for materials that could be used to produce nuclear or dirty bombs. Puerto Cortes was declared a safe port by the United States more than a year ago.

A government official said the material found in the container was Cesium-137 and could have come from a hospital.

It is often used to sterilize medical equipment and also has a wide range of industrial applications. In March, Spain halted production at a steel plant after workers found the material in a truck.

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