Radioactive device lost, found 3 hours later


Mumbai : A radioactive device fell off a vehicle while being transported to Mumbai and was found three hours later by villagers near Pune, officials said Wednesday.

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According to O.P. Singh, secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the incident occurred around 10 a.m. Tuesday when an industrial radiography device, weighing around 28 kg, fell off the vehicle near Ambedkar Chowk in Pimpri, on the outskirts of Pune.

A little later, when the loss was noticed, the AERB rushed a team of experts to recover the device.

“It was picked up a group of street boys and taken to a nearby village,” Singh said in a statement.

S.T. Agarwal, head of radiological safety at the AERB, said that the device with the radioactive source was found absolutely intact.

“It is made of heavy alloy shield, it is around 30 cm long, 20 cm tall and 10 cm wide. It contained around 2.6 Curie of radioactive material,” Agarwal told IANS.

When asked about the potential hazards if it had fallen into wrong hands, Agarwal assured that the device had gone through very rigorous tests and would not break in any accident.

He emphasised that it was radioactive but it not explosive.

Moreover, it would require specialized tools to open which are not available with the general public, he said.

“Such devices are used to test structures and welds and there is a radioactive plate on it, indicating its radioactive content,” Agarwal explained.

Agarwal said that the AERB got very prompt help and cooperation from police in recovering the radiography device.