The radiation levels at Nongbah Jynrin in Meghalaya’s South West Khasi Hills district, the place where the tanks for storing uranium ores stood, is well within the safety levels, revealed a latest study.
The study was carried out by an expert committee of the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) following the report of leakages of uranium ores stored in tanks at Nongbah Jynrin.
However, the Meghalaya government has decided that it would undertake a separate study on the rocks and sediments of the stream – Phud Syngkai – and get them analyzed at a credible laboratory to determine the exact cause of the radiation.
The Meghalaya government had on October 16, 2020, decided to have an expert panel that would study the leakages of tanks constructed at Nongbah Jynrin for storing uranium ores and the cause of the high level of radiation in the area.
In connection with the alleged incident of radiation hazard at Nongbah Jynrin, Wahkaji, South West Khasi Hills district, the Government of Meghalaya had requested NEHU to assist the State government by way of a third-party investigation, to ascertain the factual position regarding the radiation levels and whether there is any health hazard in the area.
“A six-member team under the chairmanship of B. Myrboh, Department of Chemistry, NEHU visited the site on November 10, 2020. The report of the NEHU expert committee was received by the State Government on December 17, 2020. An interactive session on the report was held on January 20 under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary,” a government communiqué issued on Thursday evening said.
Quoting the report, the government said, “The NEHU expert committee revealed that the radiation levels at the source (i.e. tanks and pits) and villages/habitations nearby as per the millisievert/year unit of measurement using the Radiation Survey Meter are well within the safety levels.”
Further, the committee also found that 100 feet away from the source in the rivulet Phud Syngkai, the levels of radiation are higher than at the source which requires further study.
“It is therefore decided that the Government of Meghalaya will undertake a separate study on the rocks and sediments of the stream Phud Syngkai and gets them analyzed at a credible laboratory to determine the exact cause of the radiation,” the statement said.
Last year, the Khasi Students Union (KSU) after visiting Nongbah Jynrin found that the tanks have developed some cracks and those cracks were cemented.
The tanks were constructed a few decades ago for storing reportedly wastes extracted during the exploratory drilling for uranium deposits.
Such exploratory drilling had been carried out in many places of the uranium-rich deposits of South West Khasi Hills district.
In the past years, the Centre and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had proposed to mine uranium from the Kylleng-Pyndengsohïong-Mawthabah area in South West Khasi Hills district.
However several groups including the KSU strongly opposed the move to mine uranium from the area.
Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tons of uranium ore deposits.