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Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to handle the radioactive Cobalt-60

How to handle the radioactive Cobalt-60

How to handle the radioactive Cobalt-60
Pallava Bagla, Thursday April 29, 2010, Kota
Auctioned for scrap after being discarded by Delhi University, left out in the open, unshielded and handled by scrap workers who knew no better, dangerous Cobalt-60 caused a radiation leak that has allegedly caused one death already. Compare this to how Cobalt-60 is handled the right way by experts.

NDTV's Science Editor, Pallava Bagla, travelled to the only laboratory in the country that handles unshielded Cobalt-60.

The lab is in Kota, Rajasthan. Note the precautions.

At the cobalt processing center, special robotic arms handle the hot Cobalt-60. You can view the radioactive cobalt, but only through thick glass. This glass wall, two meters thick, is impregnated with lead to block any radioactive leaks.

Six feet behind the glass wall is the highly radioactive form of cobalt that is used to treat cancer patients and also help sterilize disposable syringes, deep inside the facility.

The blue glow in the water comes from radioactivity emitted from the cobalt.

"See this is produced in the power plants, nuclear power plants and as a by-product," explains a Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) scientist, Jaspal Singh.

A look around the fortified confines of the facility and it boggles the mind how India's top university could allow such radioactive material out in the open.


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