The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is taking seriously the incident of tritiated heavy water, a radioactive substance, getting mixed with the water in a drinking water cooler in the reactor building of the first unit of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka, its Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Jain said on Sunday.

Mr. Jain called it “possibly an act of mischief.” Sixty-five workers, who drank that water, received doses of radiation higher than the prescribed limits. The incident came to light when their urine samples were tested on November 24. “The contamination of water in the cooler is a matter of serious concern, and the cause is being investigated,” he said.

Mr. Jain was confident that from “the details of the computerised access system, we will be able to identify the mischievous element,” and “the punishment for causing the incident will be severe.”

The Kaiga-1 (220 MWe) uses natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as both coolant and moderator.

Of the 65 workers affected, two received the uppermost limit of radiation of three rem (röntgen equivalent, man) a year in an emergency, prescribed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

The Board monitors safety in nuclear installations.

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