The radioactive substance injuring five persons here emitted radiation from the scrap shop for four days and could have harmed more people, prompting experts to scan the area for presence of any more of the dangerous material.
Experts from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Narora Atomic Power Plant in Uttar Pradesh were rushed to the locality in west Delhi to scan the scrap market thoroughly for any more traces of Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope of Cobalt.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was informed about a possible radiation leak around noon yesterday after a safety expert in Apollo hospital found that a person admitted there was exposed to some sort of radiation.
The patient Deepak Jain, the scrap dealer, was admitted to the hospital four days ago on April four after he fell unconscious. His hands had turned black, he lost hair and developed patches on his body after coming into contact with the radioactive material.
The confirmation of the presence of radioactive material came only late last night after a six-member team from BARC visited the spot and isolated six sources of Cobalt-60, which is used in radiotherapy as well as fabrication work.
The area was cordoned of last night around 8:30 pm.
According to a senior police official, the dealer had bought the material a week ago.
A medical bulletin from the hospital said Jain's bone marrow was "significantly suppressed" leading to deficiency of blood cells and his condition continues to be serious.
Four of his employees also suffered injuries and were admitted to a government hospital.
NDMA had yesterday afternoon rushed a team from its Emergency Response Centre in R K Puram soon after receiving information from Apollo hospital.
They were joined by a six member team, including a doctor, from BARC last evening besides ten scientists from Narora Atomic Power Plant, which scanned the locality to examine whether there were any other sources of Cobalt-60.
NDMA member and former BARC Director B B Bhattacharya said they fear that more people may have been exposed to radiation. There are around 200 scrap shops in the Mayapuri market.
"It was a very powerful source of radiation as one of the person is critically injured. We do not know how many people have come in contact with the substance.
"We have asked concerned authorities to check whether any other person have been exposed to radiation. We have also asked the experts to scan the area," he told PTI.