A scare at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport over a leak of radioactive materialturned out to be a false alarm on Friday as authorities sounded the all clear.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), the airport’s operator, had reported earlier that there was a leak in a consignment of sodium iodide 131 – a radioactive liquid used in nuclear medicine – that arrived on a Turkish Airlines flight.
But the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) said it had found that an "organic liquid" from another consignment had spilled over the cargo containing the nuclear medicine.
"After conducting the probe at the site, we can confirm that there is no radioactive leakage. The leakage on the consignment was a spill-over from another consignment. It is some organic liquid. This resulted in wetness (of the consignment from the Turkish Airlines)," AERB vice-chairman R Bhattacharya told PTI.
A spokesman for DIAL too said there was no leak of any radioactive substance in the shipments at Delhi Airport.
The company handling the materials, Celebi, received clearance to resume import operations. "All other operations at Delhi Airport continue to be normal and were never interrupted,” DIAL said.
After authorities sounded an alert, an emergency team with representatives of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre cordoned off the airport's cargo complex where the leak was suspected.
Staff were evacuated from the cargo complex, where operations were suspended as a precautionary measure. However, passenger operations were not affected.
The matter came to light when a pair of loaders experienced irritation in their eyes while handling containers that arrived on board the Turkish Airlines flight at 4.35am. They also observed a leak from some of the 10 containers imported from Turkey.
The incident triggered panic and prompted authorities to call in the NDRF’s emergency team.