Inde: des déchets radioactifs font 1 mort
Source: ADIT, avril, mise à jour mai
03 mai
Romandie News - Déchets radioactifs à New Delhi: l'IAEA à la recherche d'informations
     VIENNE - L'Agence internationale de l'énergie atomique (AIEA) a déclaré samedi être à la recherche de plus d'informations à propos d'un scandale de déchets radioactifs à New Delhi. (lire la suite)
Enviro2B - New Delhi: victime de déchets radioactifs mortels
     L'Agence internationale de l'énergie atomique s'est lancée à la recherche d'informations supplémentaires susceptibles de l'éclairer sur un éventuel scandale portant sur l'enfouissement il y a une vingtaine d'année, de déchets radioactifs sur le site du campus de New-Delhi. (lire la suite)
Nouvel Obs - L'AIEA examine l'incident nucléaire en Inde
     VIENNE (AP) — L'agence internationale de l'énergie atomique des Nations unies, l'AIEA, a indiqué samedi qu'elle allait examiner les circonstances d'un cas d'irradiation fatal survenu en Inde, et aider si besoin les autorités locales.
     La police indienne a révélé jeudi qu'un ferrailleur qui démantelait une machine provenant d'une classe de chimie de l'Université de Dehli était décédé. Sept autres ouvriers ayant participé au même chantier ont été irradiés et hospitalisés.
     L'affaire fait craindre d'autres cas de mises en décharge illégales de déchets dangereux en Inde. Dans ce pays, les matériaux chimiques dangereux comme les déchets radioactifs sont couramment confiés à des récupérateurs de métaux.
     L'agence internationale basée à Vienne a été informée par la télévision indienne du cas grave d'irradiation de Mayapuri à New Dehli. Elle a ensuite contacté l'agence indienne de l'énergie atomique pour obtenir plus de détails et pour proposer ses bons offices, d'après le porte-parole de l'AIEA Marc Vidricaire. L'agence indienne a confirmé que du cobalt-60, matériau de catégorie 2 susceptible de provoquer des lésions à ceux qui le manipulent, avait été trouvé dans la machine à rayons gamma disséquée par le ferrailleur.
Courrier International - Les incidents nucléaires en 2009
     Le 26 avril, un ouvrier exposé à de la ferraille radioactive sur un chantier de recyclage de New Delhi est mort d'une insuffisance généralisée, quinze jours après la contamination. Selon The Hindustan Times, elle proviendrait d'une vieille machine envoyée aux ordures par l'université de New Delhi, importée du Canada dans les années 1970. En Inde, les normes de sécurité concernant le recyclage et le stockage de matériaux dangereux sont pratiquement inexistantes. L'agence internationale de l'énergie atomique (AIEA) considère cet incident comme "l'exemple le plus sérieux d'exposition à la radioactivité depuis 2006". Didier Louvat, directeur de la Section de la sûreté des déchets et de l'environnement à l'AIEA, explique dans une interview accordée au New York Times que 196 incidents liés à une exposition à la radioactivité ont été recensés dans le monde en 2009, contre 140 en 2007.
May 3, 2010, 9:00 AM IST
Radiation Accident Waiting To Happen—For 25 Years
     The Delhi police finding that a University of Delhi laboratory machine was the source of fatal radioactive waste in a city scrap market last month could open a Pandora's box both for the university and the authorities charged with regulating and disposing of such material.
      "The university takes moral responsibility," the university's vice-chancellor, Prof. Deepak Pental, said at a Thursday press conference. "We are looking at the possibility of the university community contributing towards compensation to the victims." The victims include one fatality and seven others with radiation-related illnesses.
     Later the same day, India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, whose job it is to ensure such incidents don't take place , issued a press release and said the university violated Atomic Energy (Safe Disposal of Radioactive Waste) Rules and Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, the set of regulations enacted in 1987 and 2004, respectively, under the Atomic Energy Act of 1962.
      Going by those rules, the university should have simply asked the AERB to dispose of the radioactive waste instead of auctioning it to scrap dealers. The agency then would have arranged for the safe transport of the waste to the waste management unit of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, a government establishment in Mumbai, which would have safely disposed of the toxic waste following the usual standard procedures. That principally involves burying the waste at a secluded place away from residential areas and water sources, a government scientist familiar with the process said.
     Dr. Om Pal Singh, the secretary of AERB, based in Mumbai, said in an interview with India Real Time Friday that not only had university officials kept the agency in the dark but they didn't even have a "radiological safety officer," a position mandated by law to oversee the handling, maintenance and safe disposal of such sensitive materials.
     The officer, according to the law, needs to submit periodic reports on the safety status of radioactive materials in use to the AERB, the principal regulating agency.
     The machine which contained radioactive Cobalt -60, was bought by a professor at the university's chemistry department in 1970 from a Canadian company but hasn't been used since 1985. Dr. Singh at AERB says the agency's records showed the "machine is in use" until the police found otherwise.
     On Thursday, the AERB asked Delhi University to suspend all scientific research activities that involve the use of radioactive sources until it explains the violations in the next two weeks. Prof. Pental has formed a three-member committee to fully probe how the irradiator used by students to study the effects of gamma rays on chemicals reached the ignorant scrap workers in a market in western Delhi.
     Rules are made to be followed in a civilized society. And in this particular case, the rules would apply both to Delhi University, which was clearly at fault, and to the authorities enforcing those rules. And that's mainly AERB. For example, Dr. Singh, the agency's secretary, says the agency never asked the university why it wasn't providing periodic reports for all those years when the agency believed the machine was in use.
     It was an accident waiting to happen.
Scrap Metal Radiation Raises Concerns in India
Keith Bedford for The New York Times
     NEW DELHI — To walk through the squalor of Mayapuri, a grimy industrial area of hundreds of tiny scrap-metal shops, is to bear witness to the industrial detritus of the world: tons of rusted iron pipes, twisted steel poles, copper and other discarded metals from Europe, Russia, Japan and the United States, as well as from India.
     And then there is what came into the small shop owned by Deepak Jain: a piece, or pieces, of metal blamed for an alarming radiation scare this month that hospitalized seven people and caused the police to temporarily cordon off an area barely 10 miles from India's Parliament. Some experts declared it one of the most troubling cases of radiation exposure in recent years.
     "We've never seen a problem like this," said Krishna Kumar Jain, another scrap dealer and brother-in-law of Deepak Jain. "Now people are scared, so nobody is coming here."
     For years, India and other developing countries, particularly China, have imported different categories of waste from developed countries as a lucrative, if controversial, business. Critics have blamed the importing of discarded computer equipment, known as toxic e-waste, for long-term chronic health problems among workers in scrapyards, as well as environmental damage.
     But the Mayapuri problem represents a potentially graver threat. At a time when India and other developing countries are importing growing amounts of scrap metal, partly to help meet rising domestic demand for steel, experts say inadequate monitoring at ports and a lack of international standards make it easier for radioactive materials and other dangerous objects to cross borders.
     India has proved especially porous. Four years ago, 10 foundry workers in the city of Ghaziabad were killed by exploding military shells, apparently from Iran, hidden in a container of scrap metal.
     Last year, several containers of Indian steel were stopped at European ports after monitors detected high radiation levels; Indian foundries had fabricated the steel, partly, by melting scrap metal that turned out to be contaminated with Cobalt-60, the same radioactive isotope detected in the Mayapuri episode. It is commonly used in food irradiation machinery as well as for radiotherapy, as in cancer therapy machines.
     Indian authorities say the country's guidelines on importing scrap meet international standards, yet enforcement and monitoring is inadequate. A government plan to install radiation monitors at ports and airports is behind schedule.
     "I admit that all of it has not yet been deployed," a government minister, Prithviraj Chavan, told members of Parliament.
     Critics say that the government has been reluctant to toughen regulations or monitoring because the imported waste business employs large numbers of workers and helps the country meet its demand for steel.
     "The only time they have taken action is when there is a crisis or a worst case," said Ravi Agarwal, a founder of Toxics Link, a nongovernmental group focused on the waste trade. "They don't really want to stop it in a real way."
     Didier Louvat, a nuclear waste specialist with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I.A.E.A., said the Mayapuri case was the most serious global instance of radiation exposure since 2006. He said the I.A.E.A.'s nuclear safety review in 2009 found 196 nuclear or radiological "events," including those involving scrap, compared with 140 in 2007.
     In February 2009, the atomic agency called for harmonizing the regulatory approaches toward the issue of radioactive materials turning up in scrapyards — a step yet to be taken.
     Many countries, including India, have laws for controlling and registering radioactive sources, but Mr. Louvat said the lack of an international standard created loopholes that required tight monitoring at borders or ports to screen for "orphaned" radioactive sources that slipped into scrap containers.
     Indian authorities believe that the contamination in Mayapuri originated with a shipment of imported scrap, though Mr. Chavan, the government minister, said investigators were still looking for a definitive, final answer.
     Located on the west side of Delhi, Mayapuri has thousands of workers in the scrap trade, with different shops specializing in different metals. Shop owners say most of the scrap originates from overseas. Trading companies import containers of discarded metals to the outskirts of the city, where they are sold to haulers who sell the metals to the shops of Mayapuri. The shops, in turn, often sell to foundries.
     Investigators believe that Deepak Jain bought the contaminated materials in late February or early March. Another shop owner, Anand Bansal, described an object shaped like a capped steel tube, about four inches in diameter. The tube was made of an unidentifiable metal, and Deepak Jain cut a tiny sample so it could be tested to see if it was valuable. This sample wound up with another man, Ajay Jain (no relation to Deepak Jain), who placed it inside his wallet and soon forgot about it.
     By late March, Deepak Jain became sick. Relatives and other shopkeepers say he first developed diarrhea but assumed it was an ordinary stomach bug. Within a few days, his skin began to blotch as black rashes spread across his arms and face. His tongue and fingernails turned blue and relatives took him to the hospital in early April.
     Five others in contact with the shop also became sick, while Ajay Jain, the man with the small cutting of metal in his wallet, complained of a sore buttock and a black rash on his leg. "One day he was in someone else's shop and he just fell down," said his father, Shital Prashad Jain.
     Doctors were initially mystified. But on April 4, physicians confirmed that Deepak Jain had been exposed to radiation and notified the National Radiation Regulatory Authority. The police closed down the Mayapuri shops, and teams of atomic inspectors recovered eight radiation "sources" from Deepak Jain's shop, two more from a nearby shop and, later, the small cutting from the wallet. A patch of contaminated soil was also removed.
     "The scrap dealers or the employees working there are the victims of the inaction of these government agencies, which have totally failed to put in the necessary controls and procedures to prevent such an incident," declared D. Raja, a member of Parliament, during a speech on the floor.
     On Thursday, about 200 shop owners and workers in Mayapuri gathered under a tent to pray for two hours for those who were sickened — and that life, and business, could return to normal.
     "What else can we do except pray to God?" said Jaibhagwan Jain, a shop owner. "We have never faced this kind of situation before."
Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

     L'une des sept personnes récemment hospitalisées après avoir été exposées à des déchets radioactifs découverts sur un chantier de recyclage de métaux de New Delhi est décédée, a-t-on appris aujourd'hui auprès de la police indienne.
     Voici deux semaines, sept personnes qui travaillaient sur la décharge située à l'ouest de la capitale fédérale ont été admises à l'hôpital pour des symptômes d'exposition radioactive.
     Quelques jours plus tard, du cobalt 60, un élément chimique utilisé en médecine pour la radiothérapie et dans l'industrie où ses rayons servent à stériliser le matériel médical ou alimentaire, avait été retrouvé sur le site.
     "La victime de 35 ans est décédée hier d'une insuffisance généralisée, plusieurs organes ne fonctionnant plus. Elle travaillait dans une échoppe recyclant les métaux où nous avons trouvé du cobalt 60", a déclaré un haut responsable de la police sous couvert d'anonymat.
     Selon la police, les six autres personnes sont toujours hospitalisées.

     Une équipe de scientifiques du Centre de recherche atomique Bhabha (BARC), le plus grand centre indien en la matière, avait sécurisé le périmètre. Deux experts ont été chargés de vérifier si les revendeurs de métaux n'avaient pas caché ou enterré des matériaux toxiques.
     "Nous avons trouvé des revendeurs qui ont gardé des échantillons de cobalt 60 dans leurs portefeuilles pour les montrer autour d'eux", a déclaré S.K. Malhora, le responsable du BARC.
     "De telles pratiques dangereuses doivent cesser", a-t-il ajouté, précisant que les experts tentaient de faire prendre conscience aux employés et aux propriétaires des échoppes de la nécessité de sécuriser la manipulation de déchets.
     L'agence américaine de protection environnementale prévient sur son site que le cobalt 60 peut se retrouver dans des dépôts d'ordures et des chantiers de ferraille car il est souvent présent dans les conteneurs en métal.
     Selon les experts, cet incident souligne que les lois sur l'élimination des déchets radioactifs sont peu appliquées en Inde.
     La semaine dernière, le ministère indien de la marine a demandé aux autorités de douze ports d'installer des détecteurs de matériaux radioactifs, craignant l'introduction dans le pays de nouveaux produits toxiques.