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Thursday, June 9, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: Egyptian reactor leaked radioactive liquid

CAIRO — Egypt's nuclear reactor has been struck by a radioactive leak.


Egypt's new military regime has been told of a leak at the Anshas nuclear reactor. Anshas, located on the outskirts of Cairo, was said to have emitted at least 10 cubic meters of radioactive liquid.

"The fact that the reactor was by mere chance not operated the next day saved the area from environmental disaster," the note to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces read.

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The note was published by Egypt's Al Masri Al Yom daily on June 7, Middle East Newsline reported. The newspaper identified the author of the memorandum to the military regime as Samir Mekheimar, a former director at the Nuclear Research Center.

This marked the first report by an Egyptian of a nuclear accident in the Arab League state. Over the last four years, the International Atomic Energy Agency has questioned Egypt's nuclear program, including the prospect that Cairo was secretly enriching uranium.

Mekheimar asserted that Anshas sustained a leak on May 25 as a result of an operator error. He said the Egyptian Atomic Energy Agency ordered its staff not to publicize the leak or face dismissal. Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed Kolaly said radiation levels at Anshas remain normal.

This marked the second leak at Anshas in a year, Mekheimar said. Mekheimar, a former director of the nuclear center's reactor department, said the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February did not affect Egypt's nuclear policy, including Electricity Ministry Hassan Yunis.

"All ministries were changed after the revolution, except the Electricity and Power Ministry," Mekheimar said. "It still kept the same minister and his deputies from the dissolved ruling party."

The Egyptian government has refused to confirm the reported leak at Anshas. But Al Masri quoted sources at the Nuclear Safety Authority as saying the agency was denied access to the reactor.

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