Experts search Mayapuri scrap yard for radiation sources

Experts continued their searches at Mayapuri scrap market where radioactive Cobalt-60, exposure to which has claimed one life and injuries to six others, was recovered a month ago.

Updated: May 02, 2010, 21:18 PM IST

New Delhi: Experts continued their searches
at Mayapuri scrap market where radioactive Cobalt-60, exposure
to which has claimed one life and injuries to six others, was
recovered a month ago.

Scientists from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)
and Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) conducted the "close
searches" of the shops for another day on Sunday.

The atomic regulator decided to conduct a second round of
survey of the market to ensure there was no source of
radiation left unattended in the scrap market, which is one of
the largest such facility in Asia.

"The second round of searches are on for the past few
days. During the first round, we used tele-detectors to
discover the sources of radiation. That was done from a
distance. Now we are doing a closer examination.

"The experts go near the scrap and using sophisticated
equipment, they search for radioactive sources," a senior
official said. The searches are conducted during night hours
so as to ensure no inconvenience to public.

The origin of radioactive Coblat-60 was traced to Delhi
University`s Chemistry department which auctioned a Gamma
Irradiator to a scrap dealer. The dealer dismantled it and
gave it to others, leading to the radiation exposure.

Following this revelation, DU came under the scanner of
the AERB which has already put the radiation exposure at
Level-IV, indicating that it is of a serious nature.

The atomic regulator has also apprised International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the incident and the
international body has sought more details.

The AERB has stationed a senior official in the capital
to assist police and other agencies in the investigations. "If
the police needs any expertise, we are ready to provide and
the official is there," a senior official with Department of
Atomic Energy said.

Meanwhile, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA)
said it will hold a protest on the varsity campus Wednesday
seeking an independent probe into the radiation exposure. The
protest will be near Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental`s office on
Wednesday.

The teachers want President Pratibha Patil, who is the
visitor of the university, to constitute a committee to
examine the case.

PTI