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All Cobalt 60 pencils recovered

delhi Updated: May 06, 2010 00:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Scientists have finally pieced together the puzzle of the missing radioactive sources from the Mayapuri scrapyard.

On Wednesday, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board said that now all the radioactive sources of Cobalt 60 pencils have been accounted for and packed off to the atomic power station at Narora, UP.

In all, the scientists have found 16 Cobalt 60 pencils that came out of the gamma irradiator machine, which was illegally auctioned off as metal scrap in February this year.

After carrying out three searches, the scientists have found 12 broken Cobalt 60 pencils and other metal scrap containing radiation in Mayapuri.

“Now we can safely say that there is no radioactive source left in Mayapuri from that Delhi University machine,” said SK Malhotra, spokesperson of the Department of Atomic Energy.

The recovery of all the Cobalt 60 pencils took its time because the metal-scrap workers had broken open the lead casing in which they were contained. Not knowing what they were, the workers had also tried breaking the pencils down into pieces.

The AERB received the exact specifications of the DU machine a few days ago from its manufacturer in Canada. Contrary to speculation and claims that the machine contained over 48 Cobalt pencils, the manufacturer assured that they had installed only 16 Cobalt 60 pencils inside the machine.

The AERB had in the earlier searches recovered four pencils intact, one of them still inside the broken machine. The rest were pieced together from scrap scavenged in Mayapuri.

With the recovery of the pencils, there is fresh concern whether there are more workers out there who have been unwittingly exposed to radiation.

The DAE is of the opinion that such a possibility is remote. “We urge people to go for medical exam just in case,” Malhotra said. To make workers more aware, the DAE is holding at workshop at Hotel Golden Gate at 3 pm on Thursday.

DU probe panel’s members named

DU on Wednesday announced the names of the members of the three-member inquiry committee to inquire into the disposal of radioactive substances.

The committee will be headed by Professor S.C. Pancholi, retired professor, Department of Physics and Astrophysics. Dr Subhash Khushu of Radiological Imaging and Biometrical Engineering, INMAS, Ministry of Defence and Dr N.C. Goomer from the Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology are the other two members. Dr Dwarkanath from DRDO was earlier named, but his name was later withdrawn.