Nigeria issues warning of missing nuclear material

Saturday, February 22, 2003

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Nigeria issued a warning Friday over missing radioactive material, saying an oil company in the oil-rich Niger Delta had reported the loss.

The short announcement, on Nigerian TV, gave few details -- leaving unanswered how much material was missing, and where, among other questions.

Citing the West African nation's nuclear regulatory agency, state TV said an unspecified oil company had reported metal contaminated with radioactive material was missing from its operations.

It warned caution on the part of anyone who may have come in contact with the metal, saying nausea or vomiting might be signs of radioactive poisoning.

It was not clear what function the missing material would have played in the oil industry.

Nigeria is the world's sixth-largest oil exporter, and nearly all of it comes from the Niger Delta.

Multinational oil companies' facilities are the object of frequent attacks, by saboteurs and by thieves.

Nigeria has no known nuclear program and no known uranium.

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