Monday, November 30, 2009

Tritium Leak at India's Kaiga Nuclear Plant - Possible Inside Job

Via BBC -

A "disgruntled" worker could be behind the leak of a radioactive substance into drinking water at an atomic power plant in southern India, police say.

Preliminary investigations suggested it was an "inside job", a senior police officer told the BBC.

Police have moved into the Kaiga plant on the west coast of India, 450km (280 miles) from the city of Bangalore.

Fifty-five workers needed medical help for exposure to radiation after tritium contaminated a water cooler.


Both central and state agencies are investigating the matter. A list of people who were on duty on the day the incident took place has been given to the investigators," plant director JP Gupta said.

Inspector general of police Gopal Hosur told the BBC that there was no terror link to the incident.

"If that was the case the magnitude would have been bigger."


Officials suspect that an employee had mixed the radioactive substance into a drinking water cooler meant for staff.

Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar has called it a "malevolent act".

Although officials say the leak poses no risk to public safety, there is an element of panic in and around Kaiga.

Tritium, also known as Hydrogen-3, is used in research, fusion reactors and neutron generators.


In geological timescales, Tritium has a relative short half-life of 12.33 years. It decays into helium-3 by beta decay. Unlike Gamma radiation, beta particles emitted by the decay of tritium have relatively low energy and are unable to pass through the dead layer of human skin.

Therefore, Tritium is dangerous if inhaled, ingested or absorbed through pores in the skin leading to cell damage and increased chance of cancer.

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