New Delhi: After 12 hours of investigation and search, scientists of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Friday cleared a Delhi scrap market of radioactive material and sanitised five shops after five people were taken ill due to the radiation.
The DAE searched the contaminated site in west Delhi's Mayapuri area throughout Thursday night and till Friday forenoon. They found several pieces of the radioactive material in the area.
"The material was removed and packed in a shielded container. The radiation level in the area has come down to normal level. The road cordons have been removed," said an official.
"The scrap shop where the radioactive material was kept was found to have a high radiation field. Four nearby shops also indicated high radiation field," the official added.
Experts reported that the radioactive substance is Cobalt-60.
"The radio-nuclide responsible for high radiation field has been identified as Co-60 using a portable spectrometre. Such sources are used in industry for radiography, nucleonic gauges for thickness measurement and in medical applications. This incident/radiation exposure is not related to any of the DAE facilities," the atomic energy department added.
Four people suffered burn-like injuries after coming in contact with the radioactive material in the scrap market in Mayapuri area Thursday. Earlier, scrap dealer Deepak Jain also suffered burns and is battling for life at the Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital.
Jain was admitted to the hospital April 4 and "his bone marrow is significantly suppressed", a hospital bulletin said Friday.
"His condition continues to be serious," it added. "Currently, he is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and a multi-disciplinary team of doctors is monitoring his progress," the hospital said.
Jain's body turned black when he touched the material, according to eyewitnesses.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) got the information from Apollo Hospital that a person, who is the owner of a scrap metal shop in Mayapuri, is showing symptoms indicative of suspected exposure to radiation.
Following this, a team of officials from the DAE and the AERB was sent to the scrap metal shop at Mayapuri. The officials used radiation detection equipment and monitored the radiation levels at various positions within the scrap shop and in the adjoining areas.
The team located the sources of radiation and isolated one of the sources and shielded it with locally available steel scrap materials. This was done to reduce the radiation level in the surrounding.
The Crisis Management Group in DAE was activated and a team of officers from DAE and AERB were sent to New Delhi with a wide range of radiation monitoring and detecting equipment for prompt identification and recovery of the radioactive pieces and their safe disposal. Following this, the area was sanitised.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Sharad Aggarwal said that a formal case has been filed.
First Published: Friday, April 09, 2010, 21:43