Separate legal provision to deal radiation exposure: Experts

Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman S S Bajaj said that there is no legal provision for Mayapuri-like incidents.

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2010, 19:46 PM IST

Mumbai: India needs to have a separate legal
provision in place to deal with cases involving radiation
exposure in public domain, enabling speedy compensation to
victims of Mayapuri-like incident, nuclear scientists said
here.

"A separate legal provision is urgently needed for victims
of radiation exposures in the public domain from sources owned
by organisations like hospitals, varsities and industries...as
it happened in Delhi...where due to Delhi University`s
negligence one person died," scientists from Bhabha Atomic
Research Centre and other Universities and hospitals said.

They were speaking on sidelines of an international
conference on `Isotope Technologies and Applications---New
Horizons` held here last week.

According to scientists, the recently passed Civil
Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010 in the Parliament
applies only to nuclear installations owned or controlled by
the Centre either by itself or through any authority or
Corporation established by it or a government company.

"Therefore, a separate legal provision has to be in place
as soon as possible so that the compensation to the victims
could be given on time," they said.

Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman S S Bajaj said
that there is no legal provision for Mayapuri-like incidents.

"The Mayapuri incident was an eye opener and our intention
is to streamline the process of accountability of radioactive
sources in the country so that such incidents are not repeated
and also make provisions to help the victims," he said.

"To prevent such incidents we are reaching out to all
the institutions who have research activities using radio
active sources and making sure that they have a `Radiation
Safety` officer in place who will be responsible for any
mishap," he said.

Exposure to radioactive material Cobalt-60 in the scrap
market in Mayapuri, in west Delhi in April this year had led
to the death of one person and injuries to ten others. Later
Delhi Police traced the Cobalt-60 source to the `Gamma
Irradiator` which the varsity had auctioned to a scrap dealer
in February.

The auction was in violation of rules related to "safe
disposal of radioactive waste and radiation protection".

Under Atomic Energy Act, the offence committed by Delhi
University was cognisable and the guilty could jailed upto
five years with or without fine. The radioactive Cobalt-60 was
lying unused in the varsity`s Chemistry Department for the
last 25 years.

Delhi University recently gave a compensation of Rs 8
lakh to the deceased Rajendra Prasad`s family and Rs 2 lakh
each to five injured.

PTI