Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who is scrapping what?

Does anyone have any idea?

Rajender Prasad, who was exposed to Cobalt 60 at a scrap dealer shop in Mayapuri in west Delhi and admitted to AIIMS on April 8, died around 9.30 pm on Monday after multiple organ failure.
According to doctors, another radiation victim Ram Kalap is critical and his blood counts have reduced significantly. He has been put on prophylactic antibiotic and anti-fungal agents
It is shocking to read such news and even more shocking to note that we may never know what has been scrapped so far. The exposed person can also contract cancer and I wonder if this one reason why the incidence of cancer is increasing over the years.

Main uses for Cobalt 60:
• As a tracer for cobalt in chemical reactions,
• Sterilization of medical equipment,
• Radiation source for medical radiotherapy,
• Radiation source for industrial radiography,
• Radioactive source for leveling devices and thickness gauges,
• As a radioactive source for food irradiation and blood irradiation, and
• As a radioactive source for laboratory use.
While US has Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) which regulates the use of Cobalt-60 and other such hazardous elements, I searched for similar such agencies in India and couldn’t find any.

Or is one happy regulating only nuclear plants?

What can I do to protect myself and my family from cobalt-60?

You are unlikely to encounter cobalt-60 unless you undergo certain medical treatments. Thorough discussions with your doctor about the amount of exposure and potential alternatives allow you to make informed decisions about the relative risks.

Although it is very unlikely, you may accidentally encounter a sealed radiation source containing cobalt-60 that has escaped proper control ("orphaned sources").

Is the “very unlikely” situation common in India?

If so, do we have anyone to at least (!) blame?


Economic Times
Atomic Energy Commission


  1. This is a shocking incident. India has become the dumping ground for waste disposal, it seems.

    This article in The Pioneer gives mind-boggling figures about the amount of toxic metals and hazardous chemicals brought into India for disposal.

    The Hindustan Times says about today's tragedy- “It has become an international issue, as it's more or less confirmed that the Cobalt-60 source entered the country from abroad."

  2. Manju.. yes..and the wastes are from objects which are now obsolete in other countries nd let me quote what I just read.. it is from Gandhiji..

    And it is worthy of note that the systems which the Europeans have discarded are the systems in vogue among us. Their learned men continually make changes. We ignorantly adhere to their cast off systems.

    The situation is the same in other developing countries too, specially Bangladesh... my ex-colleague lost his very young wife to cancer and he told me that her village started getting more cancer victims after the govt. made a pact with another country to accept waste.. it was dumped in the village..

    nd if one reads more, the situation sounds even more hopeless.. and it is for this same reason that many opposed the nuclear deal if u remember.. please read the following..



    US is having difficulty is storing it's own spent fuel....spent fuel that is stacking up at the rate of 500 pounds of plutonium per reactor each year.

  3. This news was such a shocker. No one seems to care that India's richest state Gujarat sees no shame in Alang shipbreaking. Someone should investigate on who profits and at what cost to the nation. Even Circuit Boards used in electronics and computers are a major hazard.... just checked the Pioneer link sent by Manju, it covers this.

  4. I just remember the situations in SImpsons... The green luminicent liquid leaking in N-plants... Now its become a reality in India

  5. This is unbelievable! Such a toxic material made available and used in quantities in an open urban space is just mind-boggling. Nothing close to this would never be dreamt about in a civilized society.

  6. I think India just has too many people, too many preoccupations and too much entertainment for anything to matter at all.

  7. Inferno: A warm welcome to you...
    Shall we ever find out the truth? but at least let us have system in place..

    Jon: nuclear plants does look great from the outside although there are other viable options, but until there is responsibility and accountability are'nt we heading for a disaster?

    Scorpio: It is shocking indeed and it is sad too.... and dont we have a long way to go before we can get rid of the "developing country' tag?

    PT: You said it.. nd the current one being IPL...

  8. Blame game will start soon. They will appoint an enquiry commission which will take 18 yrs to come to some conclusions.
    That is how we work--we are not accountable.We are a shameless set of people.

  9. This is the result of greed.

    As I understand, the scrap was contaminated. Some years back, there was a similar incident in Jindal Iron where the scrap contained rockets and shells that exploded. Same thing happened in Chennai too in 2004.

    Such scrap comes cheap but often contains metals that fetch a very good price. Once every while, someone pays the price.

  10. Here is the latest:

    “The gamma irradiator (with Cobalt-60) was purchased by the Chemistry Department in 1968 from Canada and was lying unused since 1985. The same irradiator was bought by the scrap dealers.”

  11. And now they say this one came out from the great Delhi University! haaa, worse! People who know best about these stuff are dealing with it like a toddler boy deals with his toys. This needs to be dealt in the strictest possible way. The layman who peeled off the lead protective layer is not to be blamed, but those responsible who indulged in such a criminal lapse in duties & responsibilities ought to feel the tight strangling grip of the law...

    Still can't get over it...Will we read tomorrow that one of the Atom Bombs in a basement exploded because a dog in the neighborhood peed on it...

  12. BKC: Hopefully it is as the paper reports and not wide spread.. but if there are no systems in place and no accountability then we should prepare for more such disasters..

    Vinod: Greed is the factor and when those who should be aware of the seriousness of these matters are irresponsible then what shall one do?

    Inferno: I hope this is all and there are no more such scraps...

    Socrpio:This needs to be dealt in the strictest possible way.... will it be dealt so?

  13. I just can't imagine India as a Nuclear power... The next generation Indian babies will be having three legs, hands...thans to mutation :)

  14. Jon: Looking at the way things r progressing, I hope these nuclear plants dont come at all...


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