Five people suffering serious burns were hospitalized in West New Delhi this week from contact with radioactive material in a Delhi scrap market identified as Cobalt-60 which may be used for making a dirty bomb. Indian police cordoned off the 200 market stores and sealed nearby establishments up to a one-kilometer radius. Scrap dealer Deepak Jain and his helpers lost consciousness when they cut a piece of scrap metal. A white fluid oozed out causing the burns, Jain’s hair fell out and within minutes his skin turned black. His workers suffered and nausea.
All five are battling for their lives in hospital, setting off a security scare in the Indian capital, with prime minister Manmohan Singh briefed on the incident before leaving for Washington to attend the nuclear security summit which opened Monday, April 12.
Nuclear scientists from the Baba Atomic Research Center and Narora Atomic Power Plant identified the material and are working around the clock to investigate its source.
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Police in dark over origin of Cobalt-60 in Delhi
Police is yet to trace the origin of Cobalt-60, the radioactive material that caused serious injuries to six persons and are awaiting the recovery of the owner of the scrap shop from where it was found three days ago to get more clarity.
“There is nothing concrete. We are waiting for Deepak Jain to regain his health. We are also waiting for reports from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and other agencies,” deputy commissioner of police (West) Sharad Aggarwal told PTI.
The official said nobody knew from where Jain had bought it. “Normally, scrap dealers never makes public their source of scrap as it will affect their business. So, nobody knows from where he bought it,” he said.
Police had yesterday spoke to scrap dealers in the industrial area to ascertain the source of the material.