Over 55 workers of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka, had to undergo medical treatment after they were exposed to excessive radiation dosage when they drank water that had been mixed with tritium, a highly radioactive substance.

Top officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited blamed the incident on “an insider’s mischief.” They alleged that “an insider had mixed tritium in the drinking water in the water cooler kept in the operating island of the first unit” at Kaiga. The incident took place on November 25, when the first unit (220 MWe) was under shutdown for maintenance.

Asked specifically whether security was so lax at the plant that a worker could access a bottle containing tritium, an authoritative official said there were sampling points in the reactor building from where workers took vials containing radioactive substances to the chemical laboratories for analysis.

“There are standard protocols for handling and managing the transportation and depositing of such radioactive substances. Some insider has played the mischief,” the official said. The incident was detected when the workers’ urine samples showed an excess of tritium.

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