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JAEA confirms depleted, yellowcake uranium sold on Japanese internet auction site

Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department headquarters. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has confirmed radioactive materials sold on an internet auction site as depleted and yellowcake uranium, and notified police, according to sources close to the investigation.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) consumer and environment protection division will launch a final-phase investigation on suspicion that the sale violated the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors, after consulting the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The material in question was found to be sold on the Yahoo Japan Corp. internet auction site in November 2017 with a tag line of "99 percent uranium." It was confiscated after the sale by the MPD and passed on for testing to the JAEA, based in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

Results of an earlier simple test had shown that the materials were extremely likely to be depleted uranium and yellowcake uranium concentrate powder.

The seller agreed to voluntary questioning by the police, explaining that he had bought the materials on an overseas website.

(Japanese original by Ikuko Ando, City News Department, and Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)

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