The ban on use of radioactive source on Delhi University (DU) may soon be lifted. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has conducted a training programme for the faculty members of the university on radiosafety measures recently.
The AERB imposed the ban on the university in September this year after the gamma irradiator containing colbalt 60 from the chemistry department found its way to the Mayapuri scrap market resulting in death of one person.
Since then the research and practicals of the teachers and students in departments like physics and chemistry were in a limbo. AERB trained 35-odd teachers across 11 departments, at the end of which a test was conducted for the Safety Officer level-1 certificate. The training programme includes topics on legislation and regulatory requirements with respect to handling radioisotopes used in research applications, radiation protection standards, principles of radiation detection and monitoring devices, radiation hazard evaluation and emergency preparedness, among others.
Speaking to the Education Times, one of the trainers from AERB, Rajoo Kumar said, “During our last inspection (after the Mayapuri incident) we found that there is a lack of trained personnel to deal with radioactive sources as far as the university is concerned. Since various departments in the university are using radioactive sources for research and practical work there is an urgent need for trained radiological safety officers. This was our objective behind the training and certification process for DU teachers.”
On the ban on use of radioactive source on DU, Kumar said: “As soon as the regulatory compliances are completed from the university side the ban is going to be revoked.” “AERB is deeply concerned for the students and this explains why we have planned this training session within the university premises. Usually this training is conducted in Mumbai but we made an exception this time keeping in mind the seriousness of the existing situation at DU,” he adds.
But the training and certification of teachers to handle radioactive sources is not the sole parameter for lifting of the ban. According to AERB officials even the laboratories need to be approved. According to Kumar since DU laboratories are already approved there should not be too many challenges.
Meanwhile, DU, which has been functioning without a permanent radiological safety officer,has completed the selection process and is now waiting for the executive council’s approval on the appointment. Talking about the safety officer level-1 certification, Kumar said, “The certificate is a permanent one, but the certificate holder needs to get the Radiological Safety Officer (RSO) approval every three-years.”
An AERB official addressing Delhi university teachers in the course of a training session