Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Radioactive wastes enters village in Jharkhand State of India

Radioactive wastes enters village in Jharkhand State of India.
by
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Owing to the record 338.1 mm rainfall on June 17 in Jharkhand State of India, maximum in the past six decades, radioactive wastes from the tailing pond of Turamdih uranium mines on the outskirts of the Jamshedpur city has reportedly spilled over into the village ponds, wells and fields.
According to the sources, the spill over was obvious due to torrential rain as there is no way to divert the water flowing into the village.
After the uranium ore is mined and processed here, the "yellow cake'" is sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad for enrichment. The waste is then brought back to the UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Limited) complex for further extraction, after which the waste is dumped, into the ponds.
Apprehending threat to lives, the villagers have reportedly stopped fetching water from the wells and ponds.
The UCIL admitted the spill over but said there is no threat to life due to radiation.
A team of scientists from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre visited the affected village and collected water samples for analysis.
On December 24, 2006, one of the pipes carrying radioactive wastes from the uranium mill to a storage dam had burst, discharging highly toxic wastes into a nearby creek. The accident occurred in Dungridih a small village near Jadugoda inhabited largely by displaced families whose lands were acquired to construct two of the three storage dams, also known as tailings ponds. The tailings ponds store all the radioactive wastes generated by the milling of uranium ore in Jadugoda.
It is troubling that UCIL did not have its own alarm mechanism to alert the company in cases of such a disaster. Rather, the villagers that had arrived at the scene of the accident soon after the pipe burst informed the company of the toxic spill. Even more reprehensible is the fact that the toxic sludge spewed into creek for nine hours before the flow of the radioactive waste was shut off. Consequently, a thick layer of radioactive sludge along the surface of the creek killed scores of fish, frogs, and other riparian life.
The people in the Jadugoda area are affected not only by radiation from tailing dams but also by lack of safety at the mines. Fatigue, lack of appetite, respiratory ailments are wide spread. Increases in miscarriages, impotency, infant mortality, Down’s syndrome, skeletal deformities and different skin diseases, children with big heads, thalassemia have been reported. The incidence of tuberculosis among the miners is very high.One women of nearby Tilaitand village says that her husband deserted her because she could not get pregnant. Her villain: uranium mining. Other tribal women says her two children were born deformed at birth and were killed soon after. "The earth here is poisoned,'' she said.
Exposure to nuclear radiation is affecting the health of miners and villagers at Jadugoda in Singhbhum district in Jharkhand State located in Eastern India, which is India’s first uranium mining. Jadugoda, literally meaning "magic land", intrigues an outsider. The promise of magic enthralls; the mystery of the unknown attracts. But closeness reveals not innocence but an intention, dangerous and deliberate. According to different N.G.Os working among the tribal peoples of Singhbhum said the radiation may not bring sudden dramatic illness but slowly undermines the health of the people living in the surrounding villages.
The earliest reference to uranium mineral in India appeared in a German publication in 1860, in which Emil Stoehr recorded the occurrence of "Copper Uranite" at Lopso hill in Singhbhum. A huge tonnage of low-grade uranium ore rock is available which can yield 3000 to 4000 tonnes of uranium. At Jaduguda, the lodes are mainly confined to the conglomerates and granulated chlorite-quartz-tourmaline-magnetite rock. Workable deposits of uranium ore in this region have been proved up to 600 meters depth and the ore is being produced from this area.
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