Published On: 19/02/2020

Radioactive cargo at Bulgarian ports is not an isolated incident, a check on showed. The problem is that they are discovered through random rather than targeted or regular inspections, and that information about them is scarce, unplanned and disappears quickly, environmentalists comment.

The container for radioactive waste at the port of Varna – West was caught yesterday by a random inspection of TIR. The container was filled with scrap and placed on a special platform. Pre-trial proceedings have been initiated. The prosecution will decide when and if the load should be opened. By then, authorities said there was no danger to the health of port workers.

Two to three times a year

poor radiation from scrap containers happens to be detected, the daily reported, citing port authorities. How weak they are and what the health risk is when they are accumulated is unclear. On the territory of the port operator there are radiation sensors that provide information on radiation levels 24 hours a day. However, Port of Varna EAD is silent on far more harmless information, such as the burning waste that passed through the RDF port, for which the PECSD has asked for access to the Public Information Act.

In August last year, information appeared on social networks from the wife of a Varna-West docker, who claimed the man had identified a Geiger counter

increased radioquality in waste from Italy

“It has long been known that waste often arrives with broken packaging, flowing, smelly, and until that day, perhaps even before that, with dangerous contents” the post says. The woman adds that everyone is aware, but workers are silent because they are scared to loose their jobs. The information is published by, but they fail to receive specific answers from the responsible institutions.

Half a year later, the information has been confirmed. At the end of January, 102 containers of Italian garbage in Varna-West turn out to be full of everything else, but not the declared plastic and rubber for recycling. Moreover, bales haven’t been evacuated, which is a requirement of the Bulgarian legislation. Verification and disclosure would probably never have taken place if they had not been brought in with an expired storage regime.

A dozen days earlier, with suspected radioactivity, another imported waste was checked, this time at the port of Burgas. It was also labelled “Green waste” so not to be subject to the notification and consent procedure of the receiving State. It turns out to be mostly iron and textiles. Authorities reassure that no radioactive or toxic waste has been identified.

About the unspoken agreement between the institutions

not to share such information publicly we should refer to a case of May 2014. A metal container with radioactive waste was opened in the port of Varna – West. The information was accidentally disclosed 10 days after the incident, because the case appears as a signal in the weekly newsletter of the Regional Health Inspectorate in Varna. The health inspectors then learned from the Regional Fire Safety and Population Department that a radioactive source had been discovered in a metal container near the container terminal at the port of Varna – West. The alpha, beta, and gamma values ​​and the perimeter affected were not specified in the newsletter. After the blowout of the incident, reassuring information had been released that “no danger of radiation damage to the occupationally engaged persons and danger to the population was identified”.

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency is in charge with the control of the radioactive waste in our country in accordance with the Law on the Safe Use of Nuclear Energy. However, they do not deal with the control of the import of waste, for which in recent years there have been reports of such irregularities.

Translator: Valentina Vagge