New Delhi: Amid debate over safety of nuclear installations, a new order has been issued to operators to report "extraordinary nuclear events", including radiation and leakage of radioactive material, to the atomic regulator within 24 hours of the incident.
Seeking to remove any confusion, the order makes it clear that the reporting of the extraordinary nuclear events will be in addition to, "and in no way in derogation of the existing regulatory mechanism" of reporting of events to the regulator.
According to a latest order of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), operator of the nuclear installation will report extraordinary nuclear event (ENE) either in the installation or during transportation of radioactive material to the regulator within 24 hours of the occurrence.
The AERB order also stipulates that a detailed report of the nuclear incident should be conveyed to the regulator within 10 days.
The order has been issued under various provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 and Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage rules, 2011.
The ENEs described in the order include any incident resulting in stack release of radioactivity 500 times or more of the annual release limit prescribed in technical specifications for operation of the plant.
The operator will also have to inform about incidents where in one or more person off site (away from the facility) "were, could have been, or might be" exposed to radiation or to radioactive material.
Also, any incident which leads to injury or death of a person off site due to exposure to ionizing radiation emanating from a nuclear installation will also have to reported.
The operators have also been ordered to report any event leading to a surface contamination of at least a total of 100 square meters of offsite property due to release of radioactive material from nuclear installation.
Referring to incidents outside the installation, the AERB order stipulates that the regulator will be informed if in the course of transportation by road, air or water, a person is injured or dies due to exposure to ionizing radiation emanating from the release of nuclear material.
The order makes it clear that Environmental Survey Laboratory of each nuclear installation will regularly assess the environmental radiological conditions within a radius of 30 km around the nuclear installation and promptly report to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board any "abnormal" environmental radiological condition.
The laboratory will carry out an assessment of each such event and further report within five days to the regulator on radioactive releases, the environmental dose rate, contamination of personnel and property, radioactivity in environmental matrices and estimated dose to members of the public.
Radiological Safety Officer of each nuclear installation have been asked to regularly assess the on-site radiological conditions and promptly report to AERB any abnormal radiological condition.