Containers with radioactive material found in Karachi

July 11th, 2008 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, July 11 (IANS) Pakistan’s nuclear regulator is probing the circumstances under which two containers of radioactive material were buried within the premises of a state-owned company in Karachi. The containers were discovered in the premises of an Oil and Gas Development Corp Ltd (OGDCL) workshop earlier this month, and the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) was immediately informed, Dawn reported Friday.

The discovery “has sparked fears that more such material could be in the vicinity and a search has been launched”, the newspaper added.

The material is suspected to be of Soviet origin and could have been lying there for decades.

During this period, according to the PNRA, neither the facility’s employees nor the general public were exposed to radiation since the containers lay buried and the area was not accessible to people.

“The OGDCL found two containers buried in the compound of their workshop in Korangi, which were suspected to be containing some radioactive material. Therefore, the Regional Nuclear Safety Directorate of PNRA in Karachi was informed July 2,” PNRA spokesman Zaheer Ayub Baig said.

PNRA inspectors detected radioactivity in the containers, measuring 3×4 feet. The containers had been properly waxed and sealed.

Investigations by PNRA revealed that the oil and gas company did not have any record of the discovered material. It was, therefore, categorised as “orphan radioactive sources”. These are the first “orphan” radioactive sources found in the country.

It is being presumed that the material could have been buried in the premises by a Soviet oil drilling company that was in possession of the facility before the OGDCL took it over in late 1960s.

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