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India:Radiation leak in Kaiga Nuclear Plant could be sabotage, probe ordered

 
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India:Radiation leak in Kaiga Nuclear Plant could be sabotage, probe ordered
Mumbai/Bangalore: The radiation leakage in the state-run Kaiga atomic power plant in Karnataka could be an act of sabotage, a top official said Sunday. A probe has been ordered into the incident by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

"Preliminary enquiry does not reveal any violation of operating procedures or radioactivity releases or security breach. It is possibly an act of mischief," NPCIL Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Jain said in a statement.

He said radioactive contamination of the water cooler located outside the reactor building is "a matter of concern and the cause (of the leakage) is being investigated".

Since the incident was detected five days ago, the water cooler - which was identified as the source of radiation leakage - has been isolated and put out of service, Jain said.

In New Delhi, Minister of Science & Technology Prithviraj Chavan confirmed the "sabotage" at the nuclear plant and said a high-level probe has been ordered.

"It could be the handiwork of a disgruntled employee and we are awaiting the results of the inquiry," Chavan told mediapersons.

Jain pointed out that Unit 1 of Kaiga has been shut down for annual maintenance since Oct 20. Meanwhile Units 2 and 3 continue to be operational even as Unit 4 is under construction.

"All the systems of all the units are healthy and there is no release of radioactivity to the environment within the plant site and outside," he pointed out.

55 staffers sick

Employees of the Kaiga atomic power plant suffered radiation poisoning when they drank water that had been contaminated with radioactive heavy water from the plant.

According to TV reports 55 employees were poisoned after drinking 'Tritium' laced water.

The contamination was detected when some of the affected employees felt a change in the pattern of urination.

When the employees were rushed to hospital and tested, the samples confirmed radioactivity. The employees though were normal and they got back to work soon.

Heavy water molecules are extremely toxic and can prove fatal if consumed.

Investigations are on to establish how the drinking water was contaminated.

Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar said," This is a serious matter that is being investigated. I suspect foul play and someone has surely played mischief ", in an interview to a TV channel.

Kaiga is a nuclear power station situated in Uttar Kannada district in Karnataka.

Source: India Syndicate & IANS

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