Chennai: India's department of atomic energy (DAE) is planning to install radiation detection equipment at ports to monitor radioactivity in beach sand mineral consignments for detecting high levels of monazite contamination, said an official.
"The design of radiation detection equipment has been checked for its efficacy in monitoring the radioactivity in beach sand minerals. The equipment is manufactured by Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) and progressive deliveries to sea ports are expected from 2013 onwards," said S.K.Malhotra, head public awareness division at the DAE.
According to Malhotra, transmission of data from the radiation detection equipment to a centralised data receiving facility is being looked at.
He refuted news reports that DAE has flouted rules in opening the precious minerals for corporate sector, keeping parliament in the dark. "The department respects the supremacy of the parliament and would not bypass it," he said.
He said the Atomic Energy Act stipulates DAE to gazette the list of prescribed substances. In 2006 a notification was issued excluding titanium bearing minerals (ilmenite, rutile and leucoxene) and zircon from the list of prescribed substances.
Malhotra said even in the past, such gazette notification had been issued and added that the changes in the list by the 2006 notification does not take the minerals out of central government's control.
According to him, the state government has to get the permission of mines ministry for mining leases. The latter continue to refer applications for mining leases for beach sand minerals that were delisted in 2006 to DAE.
Malhotra said beach sand mineral (ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, zircon, sillimanite, garnet and monazite) processing facilities should get a licence from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for radiological safety.