Mayapuri Radiological Incident
In April 2010, the locality of Mayapuri was affected by a serious radiological incident. An AECL Gamma cell 220 research irradiate owned by Delhi University since 1968, but unused since 1985, was sold at auction to a scrap metal dealer in Mayapuri on February 26, 2010. The orphan source arrived at a scrap yard in Mayapuri during March, where it dismantled by workers unaware of the hazardous nature of the device.
What was the Reason of this incident?
The cobalt-60 source cut into eleven pieces. The smallest of the fragments taken by Ajay Jain who kept it in his wallet, two fragments moved to a nearby shop, while the remaining eight remained in the scrap yard. All of the sources recovered by mid- April and transported to the Narora Atomic Power Station. Where claimed that all radioactive material originally contained within the device accounted for. The material remains in the custody of the Department of Atomic Energy.
How did Mayapuri Radiological Incident happen?
One of the main business at Mayapuri is the recycling of metal scraps and sale of salvage vehicle parts. It is, arguably, the biggest market for used automotive and industrial spare parts in India. Many traders from all India come here to sell or purchase old auto parts. Many small workshops specialized in different metals are active in the Mayapuri area. The safety of the scrap yards became a concern after the radiological accident which occurred in April 2010.
The area not equipped with radiation detectors or portics, despite being a common practice in steel recycling factories in the US and in most of the European countries. The presence of toxic heavy metals and of harmful chemicals in the waste generated by these activities presents a direct menace for the health of several ten thousands of people living in the area.
Eight people hospitalized as a result of radiation exposure, where one later died. Five patients suffered from the hematological form of the acute radiation syndrome and local cutaneous radiation injury as well. While four patients exposed to doses between 0.6 and 2.8 Gy survived with intensive or supportive treatment. The patient with the highest exposure of 3.1 Gy died due to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and multi-organ failure on Day 16 aer hospitalization. The incident highlights the current gaps in the knowledge, infrastructure and legislation in handling radioactive materials. Medical institutions need to formulate individualized triage and management guidelines to immediately respond to future public radiological accidents.