The natural uranium seized from two people in the financial capital is a “radioactive element”, the Department of Atomic Energy said on Thursday, but underplayed its ability to harm people. “The natural uranium is a radioactive element, it emits alpha particles, which are stoppable even by thin paper sheet or human skin,” the DAE said in a late evening statement.
The Maharashtra Anti-terrorism squad had arrested two people for trying to smuggle the natural uranium earlier this month and seized seven kgs of the element from them. The police had said the substance is “highly radioactive and dangerous to human life”. The statement, the first by the DAE since the arrest, said ingestion of the natural uranium can cause harm to living beings and added that detailed investigations are being carried out in the matter by relevant investigative agencies.
The natural uranium is used as a fuel in nuclear power generation, and its non-nuclear uses include use as a shielding material in Teletherapy units and as a counterweight material in aircraft. The DAE said the seized uranium is currently in its custody and the case has been reported to the Incident and Trafficking Database of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It added that India has a robust legal and regulatory framework for safety and security of nuclear and radioactive materials.