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Bulgaria: Dangerous Radiation Levels Recorded In Town

Sofia, 29 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - A team of experts says radiation up to six times the normal level has been recorded in the Bulgarian town of Sliven. The Environment Ministry had ordered the radiation survey of Sliven, in east-central Bulgaria. The area has become popular as a site for country homes (dachas), and hundreds have been built recently. But, before 1989, our Sofia correspondent reports, Sliven was known for its uranium mine.

The experts say the main source of radioactive contamination in the region is underground springs -- all of which have been designated "dangerous" -- but which are used for drinking water and irrigation. The experts also noted dangerous levels of radium in building bricks used in the construction of many of the region's homes.

Local residents tell our correspondent that they believe the Government is exaggerating the danger, and the residents have formed an association to oppose an order to close the underground springs.