Police trace ONGC’s missing radioactive isotope to scrap shop

New Delhi: The container with a mild radioactive substance that went missing from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) base camp earlier this month at Rajamahendravaram, in Andhra Pradesh, has been traced to a scrap shop by the police. The container, which held a few grams of the substance Caesium-137 (CS-137), was discovered at an iron scrap shop in Kalidindi village in Krishna district. Even as the container’s locks were found broken, the substance remained intact, according to DGP RP Thakur. CS-137 was reported missing from a truck that transported the isotope to the logging shed of the complex in Rajahmundry on January 17. The truck carried the substance to Rajahmundry from an ONGC base in Krishna district on January 14.

No arrests made so far

With the help of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel, one of the teams formed by the police found the radioactive source, Rajahmundry urban district superintendent of police Shemushi Bajpai said. “We located the source in an iron scrap shop in Kalidindi. The material was being sent to Rajahmundry by a special vehicle with police security,” she said, adding that no arrests have been made so far. Bajpai said the police are still figuring out how the substance — which was not harmful since the radiation of the missing isotope was kept inside a lead container — reached the scrap shop.

ONGC to question staffers

An internal inquiry has been ordered, ONGC officials said. The SP said, “Since the material involved is a radioactive source, we are giving preliminary information to allay the fear among the general public,” and added that more information will be revealed after further investigation.