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Radioactive waste flows into village

Incessant rains (390 mm) and flash floods in Jadugoda in East Singbhum a couple of days ago have spread panic among the locals, especially, in Talsa village.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2008 01:31 IST
Alok Gupta

Incessant rains (390 mm) and flash floods in Jadugoda in East Singbhum a couple of days ago have spread panic among the locals, especially, in Talsa village. The locals apprehend that radioactive waste from the tailing pond of Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) might flow into the water bodies and fields of their village.

“We have seen aquatic creatures dying. We fear radioactive waste could prove extremely harmful for crops. We have also stopped using the pond and well water for drinking or bathing,” Arjun Samad, a local, told HT.

The mining giant accepted that water has definitely flown into the village due to heavy rains that filled up its tailing pond beyond limit.

“Rains inundated the pond which surely contained radioactive waste. Water that spilt over has flown with it the waste into the village. But the radioactive waste flowing through the village is harmless, as incessant rains have diluted the intensity of radioactivity of the waste,” P. Dubey, spokesperson of UCIL told HT.

“In a layman’s terms, it’s like a spoonful of tea mixed with 10 litres of water. There is no threat to human life or crops,” Dubey said, allaying the fears of the locals.

The UCIL also maintained there was no way this spill over could be prevented. The area received rainfall of over 300 mm and there was no way that this heavy volume of water could be stopped from overflowing, UCIL authorities said.

UCIL has assured that it has a team of experts that regularly monitors radioactivity level in and around the mining sites. The waste by no means would contaminate the water.

“Very soon, a team of experts from the company will monitor the radioactivity level of the waste in Talsa village to further put the fears and rumours at rest,” Dubey added.

This apart, in Turamdih tailing dam catchment area too there was large accumulation of water, which flowed downstream flooding the monitoring pond. “The site was inspected by senior officials of UCIL and water sample was collected by Environmental Surveillance Laboratory of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Initial screening of the sample reveals there is no increase in radioactivity and is comparable to the background radiation level,” UCIL PRO Atul Bajpai said.

He further maintained that UCIL has arranged to take regular water samples for analysis.