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Delhi’s Radiation Disaster

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 19, 2010

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) sources told PTI that while four pencils were recovered intact, others were found scattered in pieces as they were dismantled in the scrap yard. Some were recovered even outside Delhi.

The operation was carried out by Emergency response teams of BARC, Nuclear Power Corporation and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board experts who have experience in nuclear reactor operations.

Support was provided by National Disaster Response force of National Disaster Management authority and Mayapuri police.

“The operation of highly radioactive cobalt sources was completed last night and all material has been handed over to Narora Atomic Power station,” the sources said.

“Each of the pencils had seven pieces inside. We have recovered all the 112 pieces and sent them in sealed flasks to Narora,” the sources said.

The Gamma cell was auctioned by the Delhi University’s chemistry department to a scrap dealer leading to radiation leak in Mayapuri.

“Many of these pieces were hidden in the scrap among nuts and bolts and we had a tough time tracing the sources,” the sources said.

An international environment body has claimed to have detected sources of radiation in eight spots in west Delhi’s Mayapuri scrap market on Friday where exposure to radioactive material Cobalt-60 last month claimed one life and caused injuries to 11 people.

A team from Greenpeace conducted a survey of the Mayapuri market, where the dismantling of a Gamma Irradiator bought from Delhi University had led to the radiation exposure.

“The Greenpeace investigation reveals immediate radiation risk to people at Mayapuri scrapyard. We have identified eight hotspots in Mayapuri having more than 5,000 times the natural background radiation,” Karuna Raina from Greenpeace Nuclear Energy Campaigner, said.

Background radiation is constantly present in the environment and is emitted from a variety of natural and artificial sources.

“This revelation comes after the government gave a clean chit. Greenpeace has cordoned off the area and has shared information with local people and the authorities concerned like the police, the National Disaster Management Authority and the Atomic Energy Research Board,” Raina said.

The Greenpeace team had two certified radiation safety experts and conducted the investigations with the help of three sophisticated instruments like Gamma Spectometer and Gamma Dosimeter.

However, a senior police official said he will not give much credit to the findings of the NGO as experts from AERB and the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre had searched the area and declared it radiation free.

“We will go by what the expert government agencies said,” the official said.

After finding two more samples of Cobalt-60 radioactive material in Mayapuri, scientists from the Department of Atomic Energy said on Thursday that they now had no idea how many people could be out there exposed to radiation poisoning and how much more radioactive material could be lurking in the junk market.

“There could be many more (people) out there. We have no way of knowing,” said SK Malhotra, the department’s spokesman.

“This thing had the potential of being a national disaster,” said Ravi Agarwal of NGO Toxics Link, which has been advocating safe disposal and management of radioactive waste in the country.

“There is no end to exposure in this case. The driver of the carriage truck, the helpers, the people at the port, everyone could be carrying and also unwittingly spreading the poison,” he said.

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