Inadvertent rise in tritium levels, says NPCIL

Two workers of the Rawatbhata atomic power station in Rajasthan are under observation after they were found to have been exposed to radioactive tritium vapour beyond the permissible limit.

The incident took place on June 23 at Unit 5 when a modification work was on during a routine biennial shutdown.

Emphasising that there was no abnormal release of radioactivity and that the workers were hale and hearty, Executive Director in-charge of media at the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Nalinish Nagaich said tritium was only mildly radioactive and would get removed from the body within a short time.

“There is absolutely no cause for worry. Tritium is a soft beta emitter and once it enters the body, its removal starts and it gets reduced appreciably within a week.”

The workers were continuing to report for work and posted in non-radioactive areas. The incident was investigated by a committee set up by NPCIL and another by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Their recommendations to prevent such incidents were being implemented.

A report on the NPCIL website said the incident occurred due to an “inadvertent” rise in tritium levels in a localised area of the containment building of reactor-5. “The localised increase in the tritium [in turn] occurred due to the opening of the moderator cover gas line, where welding jobs were to be performed.”

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