Villagers fear of Radiation
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
The tailing pipes carrying the radioactive and toxic slurry from the mills of the Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) burst Saturday night(16/8/2008) in the Dungridih village under the Jadugoda police station of Potka block of East Singhbhum in Jharkhand State of India, spewing the village with uranium waste.
According to the information received from the local villagers, the slurry has flown for about 5-6 hours, till early hours of morning on Sunday. The pipe burst was first observed by the patrolling group in the morning and was rectified by evening.
It may be mentioned that it is the third such incident of tailing pipe burst. The first being on December 2006 followed by the second in February 2008. 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 the same 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.
Owing to the record 338.1 mm rainfall on June 17, 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.
According the UCIL it is a case of sabotage. How is that the incidents are being reported from the same village for the third time in a row? Said one of the authority.
It is troubling that UCIL did not have its own alarm mechanism to alert the company in cases of such a disaster.
A local NGO pointed out that the effluents flowing out of the pipes are under high pressure; hence when there is burst of the pipes, the flow does not take time to spread over large area.
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.
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.