March 19, 2011 By Syed Akbar DC Hyderabad
The demand for access to public of radiation equipment gains significance as India plans to import as many as 21 nuclear reactors as part of its “energy parks” programme.
The common man in the country has no direct access to radiation counters or dosimeters for independent evaluation of radiation exposure if any, from the nuclear power plants.
People living in the vicinity of uranium and thorium mining projects are exposed to varying levels of radiation dosages, but they cannot know the exact quantum of exposure in the absence of access to proper equipment. Only government agencies particularly the Department of Atomic Energy is permitted to possess equipment that measure the exposure of radiation to the public.
“For some strange reason the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has not taken note of it. There’s no shortage of radiation counters and dosimeters. A tender publication in a newspaper will flood you with the equipment. But since there’s restriction on their use by the general public, one has to believe what the DAE or the Barc says. If they say there’s no radiation exposure, that’s it,” a senior nuclear physicist associated with AERB told this correspondent.
Radiation counters help one know the quantum of radiation a person is exposed to. Dosimeters also perform a similar function. Only top hospitals with nuclear medicine departments registered with the DAE get licence to use these equipment.
“The government has always been secretive on the civil nuclear power programme. Barc and DAE have constantly been denying that there’s no radiation exposure to their employees, leave alone the general public. Their argument is that the radiation exposure is far below the natural background radiation that hits the earth. But the truth will come out if at least NGOs are permitted to take up independent evaluation of people exposed to radiation risk,” said Dr K Babu Rao, adviser to National Alliance of People’s Movements.
The demand for access to public of radiation counters and dosimeters gains significance as India plans to import as many as 21 nuclear reactors as part of its “energy parks” programme.