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Chavan allays concerns over safety of nuclear plants
Mechanisms will be strengthened in atomic research
NEW DELHI: Coming under attack in the Lok Sabha over the radiation leak at the Mayapuri scrap market here last month, the Government on Friday admitted that Delhi University had violated rules by selling scrap containing radioactive material, but promised action against the culprits.Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy Prithiviraj Chavan asserted that all 19 nuclear power plants in the country are completely safe. Mechanisms would be strengthened in atomic research and medical use as “some lessons have been learnt” from the Delhi accident in which one person died.
Mr. Chavan said the police had upgraded the FIR after the death of one person and are looking at the “criminal negligence” part in the radiation caused by Cobalt-60.
Replying to a calling attention notice by Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and others, Mr. Chavan argued for need to put in place a law on fixing compensation for accidents involving radioactive leakages.
Earlier, Mr. Dasgupta, Sumitra Mahajan (BJP) and B. Mahtab and Arjun Charan Sethi (both BJD) demanded that the University authorities be brought to book for criminal negligence. For, being “highly educated,” they ought to know the repercussions of auctioning the Gamma Cell as scrap, they said.
“A mistake was made by [Delhi] University in not adhering” to rules and its own undertaking to the atomic energy authorities that the device, used by its Chemistry Department, would not be re-sold, Mr. Chavan said. The University authorities did not follow the rules and the responsibility would be fixed.
“No guilty person will be spared, I assure you,” Mr. Chavan said.
Case in question
Radioactive leakage occurred when the scrap, which originated from the Chemistry Department, was being cut at a shop of a scrap dealer in Mayapuri.
The Minister said all 112 cobalt slugs related to the accident have been identified and sent to the Narora plant for safe-keeping.
Scrap import would now be checked for the presence of any radioactive material. Equipment to scan scrap is being deployed at various entry points. “We are conscious of the need to prevent unauthorised import of radioactive material,” he said.
The radiation incident had nothing to do with any of the Department of Atomic Energy facilities or activities. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board had a complete inventory of all radioactive sources. There were 10,000 sources with about 3,000 institutions and licences were given to users who were “very responsible”.
“We need to have a law for compensation in such cases which should deal with insurance, compensation and related issues,” he said.
Delhi University has been served a show-cause notice by the AERB asking it to suspend all activities involving use of radiation sources, he added.
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