Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan nuclear mishap: No radioactivity found in Indian cities including Hyderabad

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 25: Hyderabadis need not worry about the radioactivity levels in the city's air, water and fresh vegetables. The radioactive contamination levels in the city are about 1000 times less than the maximum permissible limits fixed by the Department of Atomic Energy.

The DAE has been conducting sample studies on almost daily basis on environmental safety levels of iodine-131 and caesium-137, both radioactive isotopes, in Hyderabad and other places following the nuclear mishap in Japan.

The ESL studies have been conducted in Tarapur, Kalpakkam, Kakrapar, Kaiga, Kudankulam, Jaduguda, Chhattrapur, Alwaye and Mumbai, besides Hyderabad. The Nuclear Fuel Complex in the city processes uranium ore and makes it into nuclear fuel for the nuclear power plants in the country. There have been fears that the location of NFC in the heart of the city poses danger to the safety of the people.

The uranium handled at NFC is not radioactive and its radioactivity increases once the fission reaction is triggered in a nuclear reactor. Since NFC does not handle heavy water, the issue of radiation leakage due to fission reaction does not arise, according to a senior NFC official.

The DAE teams analysed water, air and fresh vegetable samples at random to check the presence or otherwise of iodine-131 and caesium-137. Both the radio-isotopes of iodine and caesium are released into atmosphere during nuclear fission. The virtual absence of these radio-isotopes reveals that the nuclear mishap in Japan had no effect on Indian cities, including in places where nuclear plants or mining projects are located.

According to the latest data released by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board on Friday, there's no radio iodine in the atmosphere of Hyderabad. "No detectable activity was observed in any of the locations. The levels are 1000 times lower than the regulatory limits for restriction on consumption of food items and restriction to move out in the open air," the AERB update said.

Presence of radioactivity is measured in Becquerel or Bq.
Radio-isotope of caesium 137 was present in 0.002 Bq.m2), which is about 1000 times less than the maximum permissible levels. In case of water, radio iodine and caesium 137 were present in   0.1 Bq.l-1).

When fresh vegetables were analysed in Hyderabad, both radio iodine and caesium 137 were present in 0.3 Similar results were obtained from other places in the country, confirming that the nuclear mishap in Japan had thus far no impact on India.

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