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Cobalt 60. Whose?

delhi Updated: Apr 10, 2010 01:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The police are yet to trace the origin of Cobalt 60 —the radioactive substance that triggered panic in the dusty lanes of Khajan Basti, a scrap market in Mayapuri Phase-II in west Delhi.

Six people are battling for their lives after being exposed to the radiation that went undetected for almost a month.

Sources at Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) told HT the radioactive waste recovered was commercial in nature and may have been used at biochemistry or a haematology laboratory.

Police said the waste in the form of “entangled wires and pellets” could have been brought from outside the country and was handed over to Deepak Jain, the scrap dealer, through an agent.

Jain is battling for his life at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals after sustaining prolonged exposure to the substance.

The officials of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) collected eight bags of the substance from two of Jain’s godowns located 300 metres away from each other.

“The material has been shielded in lead flasks and is being sent for examination. It was broken into many pieces and it was difficult to trace all of them. It constituted of Cobalt 60,” said S.K. Malhotra, spokesman, AERB.

It all started on March 12 when Jain got the substance to his godown and asked the labourers to dismantle it. He suffered hair loss, his skin corroded and his nails turned black.

Jain first consulted doctors in Uttam Nagar but when his condition deteriorated he was shifted to Apollo Hospital on April 4.

The radiation safety officer of the hospital then informed the officials of AERB and a two-member team visited the market on April 5.

The officials of BARC and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited were called on April 8 and after a 12 hour operation the area was declared safe on Friday at 1 pm.

“We have registered a case of endangering life due to negligence, the other technical sections are being looked into,” said Sharad Agarwal, DCP (west).