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Radiation leak: Did Cobalt-60 come from abroad?

Last Updated: Monday, April 12, 2010 - 21:33

New Delhi: As investigators groped for clues
to find the source of Cobalt-60 that created panic in West
Delhi, the possibility of the nuclear material being part of
some imported industrial waste is not being ruled out.

Scientists have removed the radioactive isotope from a
scrap dealer`s shop in an industrial area in Mayapuri and
shifted it to Narora Atomic power plant in Uttar Pradesh for
detailed analysis, official sources said today.

Security agencies are also looking into the possibility
of whether the nuclear material found its way to other parts
of the country.

The material was packed properly with all precautions and
taken to Narora plant at Bulandshahr for a detailed study of
the scrap and try and ascertain its source.

Security agencies carried out raids in various parts of
the areas adjoining the national capital in this connection.

The scientists who examined the scrap were of the
opinion that the Cobalt-60 was not available in the country in
a form that was found in Mayapuri, sources said. There was
also a possibility that it could have been a part of the scrap
that may have landed at Indian ports from abroad, they said.

Initial investigations showed that the scrap dealer
Deepak Jain used to purchase scrap from wholesale dealers in
Faridabad and Gurgaon with a countrywide network. It is for
this reason that investigators want to rule out the
possibility of any radioactive material finding its way to
other parts of the country

Jain, who is among the five people affected by the
radiation exposure, is in a critical condition at a private
hospital here and may have to under go bone-marrow transplant.

Cobalt-60 among other things is used for radiography to
treat cancer patients.

Panic triggered in the Mayapuri locality last week
following the radiation leak and five persons fell ill after
coming in contact with a "mysterious shining object" in a
scrap shop.

Co-60 is a hard, lustrous and grey metal. Cobalt-based
colours and pigments have been used since ancient times for
jewellery and paints, and miners have long used the name
kobold ore for some minerals.

Besides radiography, it is also used to measure thickness
in nucleonic gauges and in medical applications.


First Published: Monday, April 12, 2010 - 21:33

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