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Web Exclusive | October 2012

IAEA inspects India's nuke plant after radiation leak

A team from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, began a safety inspection on October 29 at a power plant in northern India where dozens of workers were exposed to radiation in separate leaks earlier this year.

The inspectors were touring the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station to review the programmes and activities essential to plant operation based on the IAEA safety standards and on proven good practices, said a statement by IAEA.

The 12-member IAEA team was in India at the request of the government. The IAEA said it was the first time that New Delhi had issued such an invitation to the Vienna-based body. The inspection, which will last until November 15, will examine working practices and safety procedures as well as the condition of equipment.

The visit came just over three months after managers at the plant revealed that more than 40 workers had been exposed to tritium radiation in two separate leaks over the summer.

The first accident occurred on June 23 when 38 people were exposed during maintenance work on a coolant channel at the plant in the town of Rawatbhata in Rajasthan state. Two of them received radiation doses equivalent to the annual permissible limit, but all those involved have since returned to work.

In a second incident in July, another four maintenance workers at the plant were exposed to tritium radiation while they were repairing a faulty seal on a pipe. India is engaged in a drive for nuclear power, with a host of plants based on Russian, Japanese, American and French technology under consideration or construction.

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