No harm to public from Kaiga atomic plant leak: official

Bangalore, Nov 29 ( Contamination of drinking water by radiation at the state-run Kaiga atomic power plant in northwest Karnataka has been contained to avert harm to the public, health and environment, a senior official said Sunday.

“The water cooler, which was contaminated by a radioactive element (Tritium) was isolated and put out of use Nov 25. The incidence has, however, not affected public, safety, health and environment,” plant director J.P. Gupta told Inditop from Kaiga, about 500 km from here.

Admitting that the radioactive isotope of hydrogen (Tritium) had contaminated the isolated water cooler, Gupta said a thorough survey of the plant areas did not indicate any heavy water leak from the reactor systems.

The 220MW first unit-1 was shutdown Oct 20 for biennial maintenance works, while the second and third units of same capacity (220MW) are operating normally.

“Some of the radiation workers were found affected by the contaminated water in the cooler during their routine bioassay.

“As a precautionary measure, the affected people were checked and advised to consult doctors before resuming their duties,” Gupta said.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), which operates the Kaiga unit, is investigating the incident to ascertain how the water cooler got contaminated by Tritium.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Education Minister V.H. Kageri, who is the district in-charge of Uttara Kannada where Kaiga is located, allayed fears of radiation leak affecting the people and the surrounding areas.

“There have been no reports of anyone being affected by the radiation incident. It is an isolated case in the unit and precautionary measures have been taken to prevent any harm to the people or nearby areas,” Kageri said.