Police, specialists, uncover dangerous chemicals at storage site

Libcany, photo: CTK

At the weekend a store of hundreds of different chemicals was uncovered by police at a warehouse site in the region of Hradec Kralove, Central Bohemia. Three people have already been arrested. Police have also enforced an information embargo, but this has not stopped the Czech press speculating about how the dangerous chemicals including mercury and cyanide - highly hazardous to human health - came to be there.

Libcany,  photo: CTK
Jan Velinger joins us in the studio with details. At this time what do we know about what exactly was found?

"It has to be said that at this stage information is unofficial - however this much is known: that the number of different chemicals uncovered on a privately-owned site in the town of Libcany, central Bohemia, is over a thousand. Police, cooperating with representatives from the Czech Environmental Inspectorate moved in on Saturday to assess damages - arresting three before enforcing an embargo on any new information. But, there is speculation that it was not an open and shut case of inappropriate or negligent waste disposal but something far more serious: actually producing dangerous chemicals on site for the black market.

As for the chemicals found, tests are underway. The country's major media, for example, Lidove Noviny, have pointed to unguarded canisters of mercury as well as cyanides, all extremely toxic and extremely hazardous. In short: alarming news for both Czech authorities and local residents. If there is good news than perhaps it was the fact that the threat was not great enough to see evacuation measures. Here's what Regional Governor Pavel Bradik - who said at the weekend no one had been at threat - told Czech Radio:

Libcany,  photo: CTK
"The most dangerous chemicals such as cyanides or phenols were immediately secured and removed by police officers, while a specialised firm - with all necessary equipment has now taken over the site. A full inventory will be taken. Additional decisions regarding disposal of remaining waste, and costs will be taken by a crisis committee on Monday."

Generally, how unusual is such a case?

"I think it's safe to say it is very unusual regarding more serious aspects that are being speculated over in the case - if the three arrested really were involved in actual production of dangerous chemicals for the black market. That makes it different from other cases regarding industrial waste there is a legacy of firms since communism going bankrupt and leaving behind unguarded or unregistered sites. Without inventories, sometimes, veiling deadly industrial products. The three in Libcany - if charged and found guilty with illegal production and possession of hazardous chemicals could face up sentences of up to fifteen years in prison. But, at this stage this is all speculation - with an embargo on the case we can only guess at what really went on at Libcany for now."