A highly radioactive substance, emitting in some places radiation 100 times the permitted amount, has been discovered in Switzerland, local media reported Sunday, adding that authorities had covered it up for 18 months.

Swiss weeklies Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung reported that federal, regional and local officials decided not to reveal the fact that they had found radium deposits in an old dump in the town of Bienne so as not to scare the 50,000 local inhabitants.

“120 kilogrammes of radioactive waste was obtained after sorting. We measured doses of several hundred microsieverts at the source,” Daniel Dauwalder, a spokesman for the Swiss federal office for public health (OFSP), told Le Matin Dimanche.

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