After two false alarms of a radioactive leak at the Delhi airport in two years, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has decided to put its team to react in case of such leak. The team, which will be equipped to deal with radioactive leak and chemical attack, will be available round-the-clock.
There will be 20 personnel with sophisticated CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) equipment present at the airport. According to NDRF, in the previous two cases, they have found that other agencies are not equipped to deal with such situation.
In May 2015, a suspected radioactive material leak from a medical shipment at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) had created scare as various agencies cordoned off the area and did not know how to react in the situation.
“Police personnel reached there without any protective gear and even the airport staff was touching the material. Radioactive leak is something, which is not visible from naked eyes and you will need equipments to detect it. After repeated meetings with airport operators, it has been decided that NDRF’s team will be stationed there,” said a NDRF official.
The team will have special CBRN detectors like HGVI (hazardous gas vapour identifier), Smart bio sensors (SBS), Isotope identifier and multi Rae to detect any CBRN threat.
Again in October, 2016, a suspected radioactive material leak was reported from the Delhi airport, triggering panic following which police, fire and National Disaster Response Force were rushed to the airport. The fears were aggravated because airport officers at the cargo courier section saw the consignment tagged radioactive.
Senior airport officers later denied there was any leakage and said that it was only a scare, because the consignment had reached the courier section instead of import section. In both the cases, the scare turned out to be false. NDRF is also training the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) in Delhi so that they can react in such cases.
Since terrorist organisations worldwide are adapting to newer modus operandi and resorting to unconventional methods, the NDRF team has been conducting mock drills at important installations to check the reaction of agencies in case of a chemical attack or radioactive leak.
As part of one such drill in Delhi metro, one passenger brought chemical aerosol and released the chemical gas at a crowded point near metro ticket counter. The passenger and security staff in the nearby vicinity of the chemical release started showing the symptoms of convulsions, spasm, unconsciousness, irritation and uneasiness.