New Delhi | A leak of radioactive substance from a consignment unloaded from a Turkish Airlines plane was detected at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here today, forcing suspension of cargo operations.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the leak has been plugged and a team from the atomic energy department is on the spot. According to Customs officials, cargo operations have been suspended till safety clearance is given by the concerned agencies. Entire area has been cordoned off.
Staff have been evacuated. All cargo operations have been suspended till concerned agencies give safety clearance, Chief Commissioner of Delhi Customs B K Bansal said. He said the custodian of cargo operations is a private agency called Celebi and they are taking necessary measures.
The matter came to light when a pair of loaders felt irritation while handling containers that arrived on board a Turkish Airlines craft at 4:35 AM. Leakage was observed from four of the 10 containers of 13 kg each that were imported from Turkey. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was called in to check the substance and contain and plug the leak, sources said.
The material, said to be low radio activity Sodium Iodide Liquid Class 7, was imported for medical purpose by a Delhi-based multi-speciality hospital. Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the airport, said in a statement that there was no risk of exposure to any passenger as the area where the leak has been reported is far away from any of the passenger terminals.
Meanwhile, aviation regulator DGCA has launched a probe into the incident. A team headed by the Director of Air Safety has been constituted to conduct an investigation, the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.
A medical consignment of material suspected to be of radioactive nature was reported at the cargo terminal of Delhi Airport this morning. A team from Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are at the site and making arrangements for removal of the material, DIAL said.
NDRF chief O P Singh said a special ten-member team from its base at Dwarka, close to the airport, was rushed to the spot and has sanitised the area. There is no need for panic and radiation has been contained. Our teams for countering Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear (CBRN )disasters have accomplished the task nicely, he said.
The aviation ministry statement said flight operations at the airport were not affected. According to a DIAL statement, of the two cargo terminals at the airport, one is managed by Celebi where export operations are proceeding normally but import operations have been temporarily halted. The other terminal is functioning normally.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.