Norwegian daily Klassekampen wrote that the plutonium used for research in the Halden reactor in Norway was carried with a regular passanger plane secretly. Administration of the Department of Energy Technology Halden confirmed that they send the plutonium by air.
– It does not happen often, the last transit was in 2011, and before it has happened about once every two years. All shipments are made in accordance with the regulations, which allows the use of passenger aircraft. So yes, we carry it with the passenger, as long as the airline company considers it appropriate, says the manager Helge Valdseth to the newspaper.
However, Valdseth did not reveal the name of the airline they use for this radioactive substance.
Passangers at the airport reacted that the airlines have to inform passengers about the hazardous substances they share fly with. It is mandatory to mark cars with danger signs and code for the hazardous materials they carry, but there is no rules for aircraft.
It is a transuranic radioactive chemical element which is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance. Using plutonium, large stockpiles of weapons-grade were built up by both the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. The U.S. reactors at Hanford and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina produced 103 tonnes, and an estimated 170 tonnes of military-grade plutonium was produced in Russia. Each year about 20 tonnes of the element is still produced as a by-product of the nuclear power industry. As much as 1000 tonnes of plutonium may be in storage with more than 200 tonnes of that either inside or extracted from nuclear weapons. The derivates of the element is a key fissile component in nuclear weapons, due to its ease of fission and availability.
Halden Reactor in Norway
The Halden Reactor is a nuclear reactor located in Halden, Norway and dedicated for nuclear research. The reactor became operative in 1958, and is operated by the Institute for Energy Technology.