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Radiation trackers say DU campus clean so far

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) officials visited Delhi University once again on Saturday looking for more sources of radiation in the campus.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 02, 2010 01:09 AM IST

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) officials visited Delhi University once again on Saturday looking for more sources of radiation in the campus.

The scientist leading the party told reporters that there was no radioactivity recorded there. The AERB said that the hunt for the missing Cobalt 60 pencils was on, but without much success.

Meanwhile, DU Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental rubbished the claims made by Professor Ramesh Chandra, which appeared in a section of the media, that 20 kgs of radioactive waste has been buried near the chemistry department.

“We are definitely looking for some Cobalt 60 pencils out there. But we do not believe their number to be high,” said Om Pal Singh, Member Secretary of AERB.

“We are trying to ascertain how many Cobalt 60 pencils the machine could have had. The academic purpose for which this machine was procured does not require a lot of radio isotopes,” said Singh.

“The AERB officials are doing a detailed survey and all the departments using radioactive substances will be thoroughly checked,” said Pental.

“Till now they have not found any leakage in sources and no abnormal level of radiation has been detected in the campus.” Pental also said the three-member committee that has been constituted for an internal enquiry of the matter will start working from Monday.

He cleared the air about the 50 cylinders that the varsity had sold off. “We sold 38 cylinders in 2007 and 12 in 2010. They were empty and did not contain any harmful substance.”

Reacting to media reports about ‘negligence’ on his part for having signed the papers for auctioning of the radioactive waste he said, “It is not possible for me to check each and every paper that I sign. The departments and their heads and responsible. Inspite of that I accept it is my moral responsibility and I have apologized to the families of the victims.”

He also mentioned that the compensation which the varsity has announced to the families of the victims have been contributed by the teachers.

Dr D.S. Kulshrestha, head of the Physics department said that it is not fair to label the varsity as a whole as ‘callous’. He said that the Physics department had written to the AERB in February for decommissioning of the radioactive waste from their department.

“The AERB responded on March 8 and we wrote back to them on March 9 but after that we did not really hear from them. They should have been proactive about the issue.”

The department of atomic energy, meanwhile, has devised a programme for scrap dealers so that radioactive material is handled with caution and care.

“This programme is aimed at scrap workers. We have designed it in such a way that the information and the training is not cluttered with scientific jargon,” said SK Malhotra, spokesman, Department of Atomic Energy. The National Disaster Management Authority , meanwhile, has suggested that everyone working and visiting Mayapuri scrap yard on a regular basis be screened for radiation exposure.

A Delhi police team constituited to probe the presence of radioactive components at DU has also not found any radioactive substances on campus.

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