Scientists from the crisis management group of the Department of Atomic Energy and the Atomic Energy Regulation Board on Friday carried out a survey of the extent of radiation in West Delhi's Mayapuri industrial area.
DAE sources said thorough investigations were being carried out to determine how much the radiation has spread and all other aspects of the incident including how it started.
Scientist believe that the radioactive object is Cobalt-60.
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has also rushed a team of scientists to Delhi to ascertain the extent of the leak.
From where did this radioactive metals came into the shop? All these radioactive metals are kept in tight security in hospital, industries and other sectors where it has multipurpose use. Either it is a case of carelessness or it might have been stolen.
Few years ago radioactive materials were reported to be stolen from Jamshedpur and Coal mines near Ranchi city, in Jharkhand State of India. The police are yet to make a breakthrough.
According to the earlier news papers report, large quantities of highly radioactive material were stolen from a steel plant in the Jamshedpur city of Jharkhand. Three containers with the radioactive element Cobalt-60 each weighing 41 kilograms were stolen from the Tata Steel factory in August 2003.
In January 2006 uranium-based ash analyser was stolen from a Jharkhand colliery, near Ranchi city. The theft took place in a Central Coalfield Ltd (CCL) colliery in the Rajrappa coalmine area in Hazaribag district Dec 22.
Ash analyser is used to analyse the quality of coal, especially the ash percentage in coal. The analysis technique uses low-energy gamma radiation directed through the material on a moving conveyor. Cobalt- 60 is used in many common industrial applications, such as in levelling devices and thickness gauges, Cobalt-60 is also used for industrial radiography to detect metal flaws.
Cobalt-60 undergoes radioactive decay with the emission of beta particles and strong gamma radiation. It ultimately decays to non radioactive nickel. The half-life of cobalt-60 is 5.27 years. Most exposure to cobalt-60 takes place intentionally during medical tests and treatments. Such exposures are carefully controlled to avoid the adverse health impacts and to maximize the benefits of medical care. Accidental exposures may occur as the result of loss or improper disposal of medical and industrial radiation sources. Though relatively rare, exposure has also occurred by accidental mishandling of a source at a metal recycling facility or steel mill.
People may ingest cobalt-60 with food and water that has been contaminated, or may inhale it in contaminated dust. The major concern posed by cobalt-60, however, is external exposure to its strong gamma rays. This may occur if you are exposed to an orphaned source, or if you come in contact with waste from a nuclear reactor
It is not only the threat of radiation but if it falls in the wrong hand situation may be worse. It can be used to make 'dirty bombs' with the help of these radioactive metals.
A dirty bomb - or radiological dispersion bomb - is a conventional explosive packaged with radioactive material. It is cruder and cheaper than a nuclear bomb but can cause explosive destruction and radiation damage,