Probe into water contamination at Kaiga plant


Some employees of the plant had left bioassay urine samples with slightly increased tritium levels, it was reported on Wednesday.

They were immediately subjected to medical examination, and all were reported to be safe. The water cooler is on the premises of heavy water reactor-1, which has been closed for maintenance.

Kaiga plant sources said there was no radiation from the two heavy water units. But the content of tritium was found to be higher in those who had consumed the water stored in the cooler. The increased tritium can cause health hazards, including cancer and genetic problems.

“Urine test is regularly conducted on employees who work in the radiation area. It was found that nearly 40 to 50 men had slightly higher tritium content. They are on medication. We are trying to find out the source of contamination. Somebody must have played mischief,” the sources added.

Incidentally, there was no heavy water poisoning. Heavy water is not radioactive. It is 11 per cent denser than water. Tritium is present in heavy water when it is isolated.
Heavy water also contains a higher-than-normal proportion of the isotope deuterium.

DC’s take

Karwar Deputy Commissioner Channappa Gowda said: “According to nuclear plant officials, if tritium level crosses 168/mg, it is not good for health. I have only the preliminary report from the authorities”.

Karwar Superintendent of Police Raman Gupta said he was in touch with the officials. The police, if required, would offer help for the investigation being conducted.

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