Authorities in Bolivia said Tuesday they had seized nearly two tons of uranium stashed at a building in central La Paz and detained at least one person linked to the cache of radioactive material.
The material was found in a garage on the ground floor of a building in the city center, not far from the US and Brazilian embassies, Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez, who led the seizure operation, told a press conference.
Experts were to quickly analyze the material, which the minister said appeared to have a “high level of radioactivity.” Perez did not explain how the discovery was made, or the specific nature of the uranium.
Perez said the uranium could have come from “Brazil or another neighboring country.” He added that the material, found in heavy plastic bags as a result of a six–week investigation, was likely destined for Chile.
A fresh probe was launched to determine where the uranium came from, and where it was headed.
“We are surprised [to find] material of this kind, which poses a health risk, in such large quantities, in the center of La Paz,” Perez said.
Authorities did not say whether nearby residents would need to undergo medical examinations.
The head of the public mining company Comibol, Hector Cordova, said on private radio Erbol that the discovery was “worrying.”
Bolivia does not have the technology to enrich uranium, a process used to produce material needed for both nuclear power and atomic weapons.