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Insider's hand in Kaiga leak, 10 under scanner

Last updated on: November 29, 2009 20:16 IST

Investigators have revealed that an 'insider' is involved in the contamination of drinking water at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karwar, Karnataka, and that they were questioning 10 people from the set-up in this regard.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, which was at the plant two days ago, to conduct an internal probe has suggested in its preliminary report that it is the job of an insider.

Sources at the plant told that the matter was under investigation and that at least 10 people from the establishment were being questioned in this regard.

While it has been confirmed that an insider did the job, the investigators are probing if the employees from the plant had committed the crime on their own or if they had acted at the behest of an outsider.

Investigators are also probing if the contamination was done by disgruntled elements within the plant merely to spread panic within the plant, the officials added.

However it is puzzling that how did an insider manage to carry triatium inside the complex? An official from the Kaiga plant told on condition of anonymity that the worker may have taken radioactive substances for sampling to the chemical laboratory and then may have misused it to create panic.

Meanwhile, the AERB authorities have kept both the police and the IB in the loop regarding the probe and have also sought their support if the need be.

Police officials and intelligence bureau officials in Karwar have ruled out the possibility of an outsider's involvement, as nobody from outside the establishment could have gained access into the plant since the security is top-notch.

Officials said that only an insider would have information about the plant and radioactive material, since there are standard protocols for handling and managing the transport and depositing of radioactive substances.

"Looking at this measure of security there is no way in which an outsider could have undertaken such an act," said an official.

Meanwhile S K Jain, the chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, in a statement has said that the preliminary inquiry by the AERB suggests it is an act of mischief and that the question of violation of operating procedures or radioactivity releases due to security breach did not arise.

He also stated that the intention of the person behind the act was unclear and only further probe into the matter would reveal the details.

No danger to public

J Gupta, the plant director, said there was no danger to the public due to the incident since the water cooler, which was contaminated by Tritium, has been isolated and put out of use.

"A survey has been conducted by us and there is no indication of any heavy water leak from the reactor systems. The affected people have been checked and we have advised them to consult the doctors," he said.

V H Kageri, the district in-charge minister of Uttara Kannada where the plant is situated, said there was no report of anyone being affected by this incident.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru