DU hopes for partial lifting of radioactive substance ban

Delhi University is hopeful that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board will upturn a ban on the use of mild or weak radioactive sources.

New Delhi: Delhi University is hopeful
that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board will upturn a ban on
the use of mild or weak radioactive sources, imposed on it in
the wake of the Mayapuri radiation incident, to enable MSc
students to do research work in laboratories.

The AERB had withdrawn the authorisation to DU to use
radioactive sources in its laboratories after it failed to
submit its final reply on the radiation exposure incident at
Mayapuri scrap yard in Delhi within a stipulated period.

The ban that was imposed last month has worried
students whose research would be seriously hampered by it.
The university has thereby requested the regulating agency to
lift the ban, at least on the mild sources of radiation.

Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental said AERB is "sensitive"
to the university`s needs for holding practicals and research
in MSc courses, and is looking into the request.

Asked if there was a possibility of the ban being
lifted soon, Pental said, "We need not jump to conclusions
prematurely. AERB is sensitive to our needs for holding
practicals and research with mild sources but the strong
sources would have to be put away."

A two-member team comprising Dr A K Bakhshi, head of
the department of chemistry, and the University Registrar
recently met AERB officials and informed them about a series
of measures the department is taking to secure radioactive
substances, besides handing over to them a report on the
Cobalt-60 fiasco prepared by a three-member probe committee.
"The AERB has required us to transfer the radioactive
substances that are not in use, besides handing them a list
with classifications of the materials in the department`s
possession," Prof Bakhshi said.

The letter will include lists under the four heads --
the substances no longer in use, those used in research, the
X-Rays and the weak sources used in MSc labs.

He said while the department was hopeful that the ban
on weak sources would be lifted, the use of X-rays and other
strong sources would be stopped till the AERB is satisfied
with the measures put in place by the university.

The university is also in the process of appointing a
Radiation Safety Officer, and applications have already been
invited for it, he said.

Pental said the university is taking all corrective
measures required and the department of chemistry is sending a
segregated list of radioactive substances that are used in
labs to the AERB for examination.

"The chemistry department will send a list to AERB
either in a day or two. Some we hope they will allow us to
use, some they will ask us to freeze... the final decision
rests with them," Pental said.