Biggest radiation crisis in 4 years may shut DU labs
A day after it emerged that the radioactive scrap that killed one and poisoned seven came from Delhi University, the central varsity got a showcause notice from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. HT reports. Paying the pricedelhi Updated: Apr 30, 2010 01:38 IST
A day after it emerged that the radioactive scrap that killed one and poisoned seven came from Delhi University, the central varsity got a showcause notice from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
The Board directed DU to stop nuclear radiation-related operations for two weeks — the time it has to reply to the notice.
"If we aren't satisfied, we will take action that could include cancellation of license for practical research in radiation," said Board chairman SS Bajaj.
The incident at a scrapyard in Mayapuri even got the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which called it "the most serious global instance of radiation exposure since 2006". Its N-waste specialist, Didier Louvat, was quoted in the New York Times as saying: "Nuclear safety review in 2009 found 196 nuclear… ‘events', including those involving scrap, compared with 140 in 2007."
The radiation exposure could be a blow to Indian science too, if DU loses its licence. The university runs two nuclear physics courses — MSc physics with specialisation in nuclear science and M Tech in nuclear science and technology — that produce the largest number of specialists in the field in India.
"The course is nothing without practical experiments," said one MSc physics student.
DU vice-chancellor Deepak Pental offered an apology and assumed moral responsibility while also launching an inquiry.
"Negligence is obvious but I can't penalise people unless the (auction) committee tells me how this happened," he said.
Experts, however, said DU deserved punishment now.
"It actions caused a death and changed the lives of a few irrevocably," said Ravi Agarwal, director of the NGO Toxics Link.