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Navi Mumbai: Three held for carrying 'depleted uranium'

Source: PTI
Last updated on: December 08, 2009 20:08 IST
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In a major catch for the Navi Mumbai Police, three persons have been arrested on charges of illegal possession of five kilograms of 'depleted uranium' even as Atomic Energy Regulatory Board said that the seized material did not pose any radiological hazard or security threat.

The trio, identified as Premsingh Savitri, Srinivas Poryar and Tulsidas Bhanushali, were arrested on Monday and produced on Tuesday before Panvel Judical Magistrate, First Class, who remanded them in police custody till December 17.

While Premsingh was held in Panvel, Srinivas and Tulsidas were arrested from Vashi in Navi Mumbai and Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai.

The accused have been arrested under section 24(1)(a) of Atomic Energy Act for illegally possessing uranium. Possessing such material without a license from the Union government is in contravention of Atomic Energy Act, which prescribes punishment of five years or fine or both.

Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai, Gulabrao Pol told PTI that DU was recovered from Premsingh, a resident of Panvel, and was sent to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for analysis. The other two accused had helped Premsingh in obtaining DU.

The analysis, done by regional director, Central Region (Exploration and Research), Mrinal Roy, confirmed the material as depleted uranium, the police commissioner said.

He, however, refused to divulge further details citing the sensitive nature of the seizure, saying, "The matter concerns national security and nothing more can be disclosed at the moment. I can only say that investigation is on."

Confirming the seized material as DU, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Secretary Dr Ompal Singh said it, however, did not pose any radiological hazard or security threat as percentage of fissionable U-235 isotope in DU was very minute.

Depleted uranium is usually used as a shielding material in industries for radiography, Singh said that DU is also used in aircrafts as a balancing material. He also said that the source of DU -- whether from industry or from a reactor --- can be easily determined.

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