Minor radioactive leakage in BARC lab causes flutter

No casualties, says official

Within a month of the Mayapuri radioactivity leakage in the national capital, a similar incident, albeit of a minor nature, has struck Mumbai.

This time, the leakage happened at the heart of India’s nuclear establishment at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) in Mumbai. The leak contaminated the hands of a person who was carrying the material from one laboratory to another.

“The incident is of minor nature with no safety consequences,” said a BARC spokesperson on Wednesday. The leakage was promptly detected and the person was adequately decontaminated for normal work.

Barc, however, did not spell out the nature of radio-chemicals, present in radio chemicals which was transported from the fuel reprocessing division to the environment assessment division. The laboratory space was also subsequently decontaminated for normal work. No one was injured in the incident, said the reports. The scientist who was working with a radioactive chemical had spilled the substance inside his laboratory. Ten people were working around him at that time. They were also examined for radiation.

Five of them were found “externally contaminated with radioactivity” which means traces of the spilled substance were spotted on their bodies.

However, they are safe and after medical examination, doctors have allowed them to go home. One person was kept under observation for potential “internal contamination.”

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in New Delhi added: “All personnel have been decontaminated. There has been no leakage of radioactivity into the public domain.”
In December 2009, two scientists died in a fire at Barc.

The New Delhi incident had killed one scrap worker and led to hospitalisation of  several others, many of whom are still in critical condition.

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