RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Two-days after it was reported that a radioactive substance, Caesium-137 (Cs-137), went missing from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s base camp in Rajamahendravaram, the oil company has claimed that there was no need to panic as the missing isotope posed no threat to the public.
ONGC Rajahmundry Asset’s Executive Director-Asset Manager DMR Sekhar, who briefed media persons here on Sunday, said the lost substance was encapsulated in a lead container that weighed 27 kg.
“The source emits gamma rays and is not an explosive material. It will not explode under any circumstances. As long as the source stays inside the container, all the gamma rays emitted will be absorbed by the lead shield,” he said.
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Reaffirming that the missing substance posed no threat to the public, he said, “The gamma rays are emitted only in one direction. If the isotope is taken out of the container, only an area of up to 2 metres will be affected. Beyond that, its impact will be nil.”
The official cited what was published on the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s website in response to the media reports about the incident: “Radioactive sources are routinely used for oil logging and are regulated for their safety by AERB.”
The ONGC assured that the company was taking the matter very seriously and leaving no stone unturned to retrieve the radioactive substance in its original form with help from security agencies and the AERB. “An FIR was lodged as soon as we detected that the isotope has gone missing. Work at the asset has not been affected as we have more of the material,” he said.
Even though it was only a few grams, the worth of the missing substance is Rs 27 lakh.