NEW DELHI: A radioactive material leak was detected Friday at New Delhi’s international airport on a shipment of nuclear medicine from Turkey before being plugged by emergency teams, officials said.
The incident happened near the cargo area of Turkish Airlines where four cartons containing nuclear medicine material were found to be damaged, an official in the National Disaster Response Force told AFP.
“The situation is under control; our teams are at the spot. There is no need to panic,” the official added on condition of anonymity.
“Atomic energy experts are on their way to assess and analyse the situation. The consignment has been isolated.”
India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed the incident at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, adding that the “leakage has been plugged”.
The NDTV network reported that two cargo workers who were exposed to the leakage had been taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
The material, identified as Sodium Iodide 131, is used to treat thyroid disorders and was meant to be delivered to a private hospital in the Indian capital.
In 2010, a scrapyard worker in Delhi died from radiation poisoning and seven others were injured, raising concerns over the handling of radioactive material in India.
Environmental group Toxic Links estimates that India produces five million tonnes of hazardous industrial waste every year and imports 5,000 tonnes of scrap metal every day.
Delhi airport authorities said the area of exposure was far away from any of the passenger terminals and that there was “absolutely no risk of exposure to any passengers”.
“The said area has been cordoned off and as per the preliminary assessment… the material has been termed as that of low radio activity,” the authorities said in a statement.
“All passenger operations are proceeding safely and normally without any interruption.”
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