Kaiga Atomic Power Station is in news again for wrong reasons. This time because 55 of its employees were exposed to an excessive radiation dosage when they drank water that had been mixed with tritium, a highly radioactive substance. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited blamed the incident on “an insider’s mischief.” NPCIL alleged that “an insider had mixed tritium in drinking water in a cooler kept in the operating island of the first unit” at Kaiga.
The current Kaiga plants include two units that are outside the purview of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, and thus, they are officially set aside for "strategic" or military use. Kaiga forms an important link in the chain of plutonium producing cycle feeding the Indian nuclear weapons programme. Kaiga is also close to India's major naval base, INS Kadamba
This is not first time Kaiga Plant has been in news for wrong reasons. In May 1994, the containment dome of Kaiga-I suffered a “calamity'’ during construction when the inner layer or “lamination'” broke under stress and collapsed. Later in 1999, there was also a less publicised fire on the same dome. “The Times of India” reported it as ‘Fire Breaks Out in Kaiga Plant Dome’ on November 13.
Earlier in the year, Nuclear scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam, who worked in the Simulator Training Division of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station, went missing on the morning of June 8. A week later, Indian Navy divers recovered his body from the Kali river near the plant. His death was treated as a suicide.
About six weeks earlier to Lokanathan Mahalingam incident, another NPC non-technical employee Ravi Mule was found dead in the township. He too had gone for morning walk. According to the medical report, the death of Ravi Mule might be caused by the injuries he suffered after his fall from a multi-storeyed building in the township.
Interested quarters in neighboring Pakistan are trying to use these event to embarrass India and are trying to question the security of Indian nuclear programme. Interestingly, It was Pakistan who was facing heat from India over safety of their nuclear assets.
We hope that security establishment is looking at all the possible angles.