Three persons were arrested from Panvel after nearly 5 kg of uranium was found in their possession on Tuesday morning.
The three identified, as Premsingh Savitri, Srinivas Poriyar and Tulsidas Bhanushali were booked under unlawful possession of prescribed material under sections of the Atomic Energy Act and remanded to police custody till December 17.
Gulabrao Pol, commissioner of police Navi Mumbai, declined to divulge information about the exact time and place from where the three were arrested. Police sources said, the suspicious looking material in the form of a metallic ball was sent to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
“Crime branch officials approached BARC on December 6 with a black ball of metal suspected to be uranium,” said SK Malhotra, public awareness officer, department of atomic energy (DAE).
On Monday, analysis was conducted by Mrinal Roy, regional director of Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (Central Region) in Nagpur, who confirmed the material as depleted uranium — U 238 — which is normally found in X-Ray machines, cancer treatment machines as radiation shields.
“The uranium found doesn’t belong to any of the atomic energy plants in the country. Depleted uranium cannot be used as fuel or for bombs,” said Malhotra. Its application in civil society is restricted to its usage as radiation shields, he said.
Uranium of any grade is listed as a prescribed material under the atomic energy act, so any form of usage, trade or processing needs a license from the Atomic Energy Commission.
With India being a prime market for selling scrap, and as thousands of non-functional X-Ray machines and cancer treatment machines are dumped, DAE officials said the uranium found on the three could have come from a scrap dealer.
The quantity found on those arrested emits very mild radiation and will not pose danger to the man who possesses it, added DAE officials.