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India:"Mayapuri radiation incident is a wake up call"

May 21, 2010

Mayapuri area was declared risk free by Greenpeace after its review of the decontamination work done by the government authorities. The NGO urged the Government to be more transparent and methodical in its approach when dealing with a crisis of this nature which involves people’s safety.

A team of radiation experts from Greenpeace revisited the Mayapuri scrap market on Wednesday morning to check the levels of radiation after a decontamination effort by government authorities this past weekend and concluded that the "hot stops of radiation" have been removed.

Greenpeace Mayapuri.jpg

Greenpeace experts had identified the "hotspots" with dangerous levels of radiation, including two places which had levels higher than 5,000 times the normal background. On Wednesday morning, a Greenpeace-team reviewed the decontamination work done by the authorities so far and noted: "From our measurements, we can conclude that the hot spots have been removed."

Presenting their findings after a review of decontamination work, Greenpeace radiation expert Jan Vande Putte said: "The hottest spot which had a reading of 500 micro-Sv/hr at 10cm last week, has now dropped to 1 micro-Sv/h or 500 times less. The remaining contamination does not pose an immediate risk to the workers, but could still be harmful if left untouched for a longer period of time. The authorities now have the responsibility to draft a comprehensive action plan to further reduce radiation exposure of the public to levels as low as achievable."

Demanding that the Government provide correct and consistent information and prepare a detailed follow-up action plan to clean up the area, he said: "So far the authorities have not followed international standards to ensure the highest levels of safety. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board must publish its comprehensive assessment of the situation and their plan for further decontamination as is normal international practice. India needs to put in place standards and processes that would to ensure proper decontamination of the area and safeguarding of the people."

Greenpeace also said that it had distributed information to the workers and local residents around the impacted area in Mayapuri regarding health impacts of radiation from Cobalt -60.

"The manner in which the authorities have dealt with this situation, including a complete lack of transparency, is shocking. Blood tests have been conducted around a month ago and yet the results have not been provided to the people. We need the Government to be more transparent about its approach when dealing with a crisis of this nature,’’ said Greenpeace (India) nuclear campaigner Karuna Raina.

"The Mayapuri incident should be treated as a wake-up call for all of us, especially the Government. All the loopholes in the nuclear regulatory system need to be identified and dealt with. We are simply unprepared for the civilian nuclear expansion the Government is currently proposing,’’ she added.

Source : The Hindu
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