Radioactive leak at Delhi International Airport within ‘permissible’ limit, operations resume

Radioactive leak at Delhi International Airport within 'permissible' limit, operations resume
Delhi International Airport. Picture Courtesy: Ramesh NG

A radioactive leak from a medical shipment at cargo terminal of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi forced authorities to cordon off the area earlier today.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) rushed its team to the spot, but later said that the leak had been minimal and from cancer medication.

“A call was received from the airport around 10.45 AM regarding suspected radioactive leak from medical equipment,” said Atul Garg, Chief Fire Officer. He stated that the equipment had come from an Air France plane and was kept at the cargo terminal.

NDTV reported that officials of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board tested the contents of the leak and confirmed that it was a ‘low-intensity radioactive substance used in nuclear medicine’.

BARC, NDRF officers said there was no anticipation of any harm as leakage was within permissible limits. Flight operations at the Delhi airport were normal, ANI reported.

Delhi Police had initially said that the leaked material was medicinal in nature. The police said that the area where the leak took place was 1.5 km away from passenger area and was evacuated and cordoned off.

Following report of the leak, teams from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were rushed to the spot. According to ANI, seven fire tenders and a hazmat van were also sent to the spot.

A team of doctors from Medanta hospital were also rushed to the spot. “From the initial update it appears that the material contains sodium molybdate. We are also analysing the contents of the pilferage,” officials said.

After inspection, the NDMA gave the airport the all-clear.

The Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which manages and operates the airport, also said there was no radioactive leak at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

“No radioactive leak at Delhi airport. All flight operations are absolutely normal,” DIAL tweeted.

A similar incident at the airport had caused a scare last year when authorities reported there had been a leak in a consignment of sodium iodide 131, a radioactive liquid used in nuclear medicine, which had arrived on a Turkish Airlines passenger flight. But it turned out to be a false alarm.

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