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Internal sabotage behind radiation leak at Kaiga

Press Trust Of India  |  Kaiga (Karnataka) 

Tritiated water vials were found in water cooler.

Internal sabotage could have led to the radioactive contamination of a water cooler at in Karnataka, exposing about 50 workers to increased level of radiation sparking security concerns.

Government and atomic officials said today all workers at the state-run plant were safe and there is no scare of a radiation leak in the area in Karwar district, about 450 km from Bangalore. The affected workers have since returned to work, they said.

A criminal investigation has been launched after the Atomic Energy Commission said radioactive tritium used in nuclear reactors was “deliberately” put in a water cooler.

“Somebody deliberately put the tritiated water vials into a drinking water cooler. Therefore, we are investigating who is behind the malevolent act,” AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar said in Mumbai. Tritium can cause cancer.

Kakodkar said people involved will be punished.

Chairman and Managing Director said, "Preliminary enquiry does not reveal any violation of operating procedures or radioactivity releases or security breach. It is possibly an act of mischief." Security at the plant has since been beefed up.

Jain said it will be possible to narrow down the suspects after the personnel who were in the operating area on the intervening night of November 23 and 24 are questioned.

In New Delhi, Minister of State for Atomic Energy Prithviraj Chavan said it has to be seen whether it was an act of a "disgruntled" individual. "We will find answers soon."

About 50 employees working in the first maintenance unit of the Kaiga plant were treated at the plant hospital for increased level of tritium after they drank water from a cooler in the operating area on November 24, official sources said.


First Published: Mon, November 30 2009. 01:31 IST