In a major relief for Delhi residents, all the missing cobalt pencils auctioned to a scrap dealer by the Delhi University have been recovered, a month after eight people were exposed to radiation in the national capital's Mayapuri area.
The National Radiation Emergency Response team of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre recovered 16 cobalt pencils from a Gamma cell, which was scattered in a scrap yard in Mayapuri, exposing eight persons to radiation. One of them had died later.
BARC sources told PTI that while four pencils were recovered intact, others were found scattered in pieces as they were dismantled in the scrap yard. Some were recovered even outside Delhi.
"The operation of highly radioactive cobalt sources was completed on Tuesday night and all the material has been handed over to the Narora Atomic Power station," the sources said.
"Each of the pencils had 7 pieces inside. We have recovered all the 112 pieces and sent them in sealed flasks to Narora," the sources said.
The Gamma cell was auctioned by the Delhi University's chemistry department to a scrap dealer leading to radiation leak in Mayapuri.
"Many of these pieces were hidden in the scrap among nuts and bolts and we had a tough time tracing the sources," the sources said. The source search, identification and recovery operation of the Mayapuri scrap to make it free from 'orphan sources' (unaccounted sources to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) began on April 7.
The operation was carried out by emergency response teams of the BARC, the Nuclear Power Corporation and experts from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board who have experience in nuclear reactor operations.
Support was provided by the National Disaster Response force of the National Disaster Management authority and Mayapuri police teams.