A few grams of Caesium-137 (CS-137), worth Rs 27 lakh, went missing from ONGC's base camp at Rajamahendravaram earlier this week.

No danger from missing radioactive isotope in Andhra internal inquiry initiated ONGCONGC's base camp at Rajamahendravaram
news Crime Monday, January 21, 2019 - 08:20

Two days after a mild radioactive substance went missing from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) base camp at Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh, authorities held a press meet to clarify that there was no danger to the public. Officials identified the substance as a few grams of Caesium-137 (CS-137), which was worth Rs 27 lakh.

Speaking to reporters, ONGC Asset Manager Sekhar called it a ‘mild radioactive substance’. “Because people might get scared and there was a need to bring the facts to the people because we are a public sector undertaking. Not only ONGC officials but even scientists from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) have stated that there is no danger due to the incident,” he said.

The incident had come to light during an internal audit on Thursday following which ONGC officials on Friday filed a complaint with the Bommuru police. The isotope was said to be reported missing from a truck that transported it to the logging shed of the complex. 

Officials said that the radiation of the missing isotope was only 2.5 curie and explained that it was kept inside a lead container, which completely suppressed the gamma rays released by it.

“Even if you take the substance out of the container, its effect will only be felt in a 2-metre radius. There are reports doing the rounds that it will react with the air and might explode. This is totally false. It is not explosive material at all,” one official explained.

They also said that an internal inquiry had begun, to ascertain the lapses that caused the substance to go missing. The police had also said that they had formed four teams to track the missing isotope.

According to the United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Cesium is a soft, flexible, silvery-white metal that becomes liquid near room temperature, and the most common radioactive form of the substance is Cs-137, which is produced by nuclear fission. It is also one of the byproducts of nuclear fission processes in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons."

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