In Bulgarien wurden Schmuggler festgenommen, welche 3,4 kg des sehr seltenen Metalls Hafnium transportierten.

Das Metall hat eine 50.000 mal höhere Sprengkraft wie TNT und der Import und Export ist weltweit verboten.

Das Metall wird u.a. verwendet um Atom Reaktoren zu kontrollieren.

Eine enorme Energie hat dieses extrem seltene Metall.

Bulgaria Prevents Smuggling of Nuclear Metal


Bulgaria thwarted the smuggling of 3.4kg of hafnium -- a dual-use rare metal, which scientists say can be used to make powerful explosives or "dirty bombs", the country's service for fighting organised crime said Monday.

(Radio Netherlands - 20/09/05; AP, Reuters, BBC, BNN, Sofia News Agency, Mediapool, Dnevnik, Vseki Den, Bulgarian Interior Ministry Web Site - 19/09/05; Washington Post - 28/03/04)

"The substance was transported as a metal, and in this condition it is not radioactive and is not dangerous," police said in a statement. []

Bulgarian authorities have arrested four men caught in an apparent attempt to smuggle into Romania 3.4kg of the rare metal hafnium, a substance of possible dual use, which is on Bulgarian and international lists of goods banned for export or import.

The men -- three Romanians and a Bulgarian -- were detained at the border check point in the northern city of Ruse as they were trying to cross over into Romania by car via the Danube Bridge, which links the two countries.

"The substance was transported as a metal, and in this condition it is not radioactive and is not dangerous," Bulgaria's National Service for Organised Crime Fighting (NSOCF) said in a statement on Monday (19 September). The operation was conducted on Saturday, NSOCF Chief General Valentin Petrov said, describing it as one of great importance for Bulgaria's national security.

Hafnium's properties are influenced considerably by the impurities of zirconium present. Of all the elements, zirconium and hafnium are two of the most difficult to separate. Given its good absorption cross section for thermal neutrons, excellent mechanical properties and extremely high corrosion resistance, hafnium is used for nuclear reactor control rods. It is available in many forms, including foil, sponge and powder. Finely divided hafnium is pyrophoric and can ignite spontaneously in air.

Hafnium is also used in gas-filled and incandescent lamps, as an efficient getter for scavenging oxygen and nitrogen, and in plasma cutting because of its ability to shed electrons into air. In recent years, it has been put into the development of newer nuclear weapons. Scientists say can be used to make powerful explosives or "dirty bombs".

According to a Washington Post report in March of last year, a 31-gram piece of the hafnium-178 isomer stores enough energy to boil 120 tonnes of water. One tankful of it could fuel a car on a trip around Earth 520 times, while one gram of the material would have up to 50,000 times the explosive power of a gram of TNT.

Bulgaria does not have the required equipment for the production of hafnium, Petrov said, explaining that it was the first time that the rare metal was found in the country. An investigation is under way, but it is still unclear where the substance originated.

"The investigation of such cases usually shows that deals with atypical substances are made by criminals, whose goal is to profit from their transfer and sale," said Petrov, suggesting that an international criminal gang could be behind the attempt to smuggle the hafnium.