A YEAR after a “leak” from a consignment of Liquid Sodium Iodide caused a “radioactive” scare at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), officials and professional agencies conducted a mock exercise at the cargo area Sunday to check and evaluate response time of the agencies in the event of such a leak.
At least 10 agencies, including officials from the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), conducted the exercise. New Delhi district magistrate of Abhishek Singh was also present during the exercise.
Sub-divisional magistrate Aman Gupta said, “The exercise was conducted to check the response time of the agencies. We also asked dummy volunteers to act as victims. They were taken to AIIMS and Fortis Hospital so that we could check the response time of hospitals as well.”
He added that the exercise was conducted in a highly professional manner and all norms that have to be followed in case of a radiological emergency at IGIA were adhered to. The exercise began at 8 am and ended at noon, said Gupta.
As part of the exercise, an operator in the cargo area “found” that a box containing a “radioactive substance” had fallen on the ground and leaked. He immediately raised an alarm and informed his seniors.
The workers present in the room immediately closed the door and shut off the ventilation in the room. The teams from DDMA, NDRF, police, medical staff, DFS (Delhi Fire Services) and home guards started arriving one by one at the spot.
“Staff members who are experts in dealing with radioactive substance wore their uniform and entered the room one by one to rescue the workers. They also measured the levels of the substance in the room with a digital dosimeter. Other devices were used to check whether the levels were within safe limits,” said S K Mishra, senior consultant, NDRF.
The “rescued” workers were asked to have a bath before being sent to hospitals. Mishra said such exercises have been conducted at airports in Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai. He added that parcels containing radioactive substances always have a warning label on them.