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Water Cooler at Indian Nuclear Plant Contaminated


Water Cooler at Indian Nuclear Plant Contaminated

Statement from the Kaiga nuclear power plant said several workers tested positive for increased levels of the radioactive element tritium after drinking from the cooler

India's government says abnormal levels of radiation have been detected in workers at a nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country. Officials say the incident appears to be an act of sabotage rather than caused by an accidental leak.

Indian government officials are urging calm following the revelation that employees of a maintenance unit of the Kaiga atomic plant were treated for radiation poisoning after drinking water containing tritium.

Authorities say the source of the contamination, which affected 55 workers, has been traced to a drinking water cooler at the government facility.

India's science minister, Prithviraj Chavan, says an insider at the plant is suspected of spiking the cooler with so-called "heavy water," which contains a radioactive hydrogen isotope.

"Prima Facie, it appears that some disgruntled employee has tried to mix a small vile of heavy water into one particular water cooler," Chavan said.

Indian media quote sources saying that the contamination occurred early last Monday at the nuclear plant in the state of Karnataka.

The country's Nuclear Power Corporation, which operates India's civil nuclear facilities, says no radiation has been detected outside the plant, nor was there any security breach.

One of the three power generating units at the plant was shut down for scheduled maintenance on October 20th, but the others are reported to be operating normally. A fourth unit, which would also generate 220 megawatts of power, is to be commissioned soon.

This is not the first incident at the Kaiga facility. One layer of the first unit's containment dome collapsed during construction in 1994, delaying by four years a start to operations.