New Delhi: The origin of radioactive
Cobalt-60 found in west Delhi`s Mayapuri, which led to the
death of one person, has been traced to Delhi University`s
Chemistry Department where it was lying unused since the last
The Cobalt-60 was in a "Gamma Irradiator", which was
bought in 1968 from Canada and was not in use since 1985,
police said today adding it was bought by scrap dealers in
Mayapuri through an auction in February this year.
"We have traced the radioactive material to Delhi
University`s Chemistry Department. One of the equipment the
scrap dealers bought was Gamma Irradiator," Joint Commissioner
of Police (Southern Range) Ajay Kashyap said.
The scrap dealers dismantled the equipment and in the
process, the lead covering on it was pealed off leading to
radiation exposure, Kashyap said.
"The equipment was in use till 1985 and after that it
was lying in a room unused. In February, University committee
decided to sell it and the Mayapuri scrap dealers bought it
through auction," he said.
He said the four workers who are admitted to city
hospitals were shown photographs of the equipment and one of
them identified it.
Panic gripped Mayapuri in the first week of April when
11 people were admitted to hospitals after they were exposed
A worker in the scrap shop from where the Cobalt 60
was discovered has died due to exposure to radiation.
Gamma irradiators are used for radiation processing
At one stage of investigations, it was suspected that the
scrap material came from abroad. Some reports even suggested
that the scrap originated from medical waste from a city
Eleven sources of radiation were detected in the Mayapuri
scrap market where Cobalt-60 was recovered this month.
Cobalt-60 is a radioactive isotope of cobalt, which is a hard,
lustrous, grey metal. It is used in cancer therapy machines
and other medical equipment.
The radiation exposure came to light when Deepak Jain,
a scrap dealer, and four of his workers were admitted to city
Experts from Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have scanned all the 800
shops in the scrap market and said that the locality was
There was negligence: DU VC
Delhi University Vice Chancellor
Deepak Pental tonight admitted there had been "negligence" as
the radioactive substance found its way out of the
university`s Chemistry Department to a scrap market in
Mayapuri industrial area.
"We have to go into it and inquire into this--in a very
systematic method to find out where was the negligence, when
the source (of radioactive substance) brought, with whose
permission the source was bought and who was using it", he
He told a private TV channel that he learnt from the media that the
radioactive substance found in Mayapuri was traced to Delhi
University`s Chemistry Department.
"The police came to the university but they didn`t come
to see me, to inform me about what has happened....I`m not
fully in picture of what exactly happened", Pental said.
The radioactive substance Cobalt-60 was found in a scrap
shop in Mayapuri industrial area of West Delhi in the first
week of Delhi and 11 people fell ill after being exposed to
radiation. One of them later succumbed.