Greenpeace re-views decontamination of Mayapuri “hot-spots”

Shares data on radiation levels with local residents and workers

Press release - May 19, 2010
NEW DELHI, India — The Greenpeace team of radiation experts revisited the Mayapuri scrap yard to check the levels of radiation after a decontamination effort by authorities (1) on Sunday, May 16th. The authorities were forced to take immediate decontamination action after Greenpeace identified ‘hotspots’(2) with dangerous levels of radiation, including two places which had levels higher than 5000 times normal background.

Greenpeace activists put up warning signs around contaminated areas after radiation experts found high levels of radiation at Mayapuri, Delhi.

This morning, the Greenpeace-team reviewed the decontamination work done by the authorities so far. "From our measurements, we can conclude that the hot spots have been removed" said Jan Vande Putte, radiation expert of Greenpeace. "The radiation levels in the area up to 30m from shop number D-32 are still a factor 2-10 above the natural background level at 1m.  

The hottest spot which had a reading of 500micro-Sv/hr at 10cm last week, has now dropped to 1micro-Sv/h or 500 times less. The remaining contamination does not pose an immediate risk to the workers, but could still be harmful if left untouched for a longer period of time. "The authorities now have the responsibility to draft a comprehensive action plan to further reduce radiation exposure of the public to levels as low as achievable." said Jan Vande Putte.

"So far authorities have not followed international standards to ensure the highest levels of safety. The AERB must publish its comprehensive assessment of the situation and their plan for further decontamination, as is normal international practice (3).  India needs to put in place standards and processes that would to ensure proper decontamination of the area and safeguarding of the people", said Jan Vande Putte.

"The Mayapuri incident should be treated as a wake-up call for all of us - especially the Government. All the loop holes in the nuclear regulatory system need to be identified and dealt with. We are simply unprepared for the civilian nuclear expansion the Government is currently proposing", concluded Ms Raina.

Greenpeace also distributed information to the workers and local residents around the impacted area in Mayapuri regarding health impacts of radiation from Cobalt -60. "The manner in which the authorities have dealt with this situation, including a complete lack of transparency, is shocking. Blood tests have been conducted around a month ago, and yet the results have not been provided to the people", said Karuna Raina, Nuclear Campaigner Greenpeace India.

Earlier statements by the DAE and AERB (4), issued on April 9th and 16th respectively, indicate that the decontamination process had ensured that the area was "safe". Local people working in the vicinity of the "hotspots" indicate that they had no knowledge of any remaining radioactivity. "An independent regulatory body is supposed to protect the health of people and environment not the nuclear establishment." concluded Ms. Raina.

Safe Power India

For further information, contact

Karuna Raina, Nuclear Campaigner, +91 9417116267,

Jan Vande Putte, Radiation Expert, +91 9845535418,

Shachi Chaturvedi, Senior Media Officer, +91 9818750007,

Hozefa Merchant, Media Officer, +919819592410,

Notes to Editor

# Experts from AERB – Atomic Energy Regulatory Board; BARC – Bhabha Atomic Research Center; NDRF – National Disaster Management Relief Force; NAPS – Narora Atomic Power Station
# The ‘Radiological Emergency’ by IAEA and WHO, clearly state that “The public needs a plain language explanation of the hazards and associated risks and protective actions to be taken to reduce the risks, to ensure public safety and to protect the public’s interests.”
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