Unusual amounts of radiation in soil: Amaraweera orders probe
Posted on October 20th, 2020

By Thameenah Razeek  Courtesy Ceylon Today

Minister of Environment, Mahinda Amaraweera, has instructed the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) and the Atomic Energy Board (AEB) to conduct an investigation regarding the claims made by the heads of certain authorities that the sand distributed and sold locally for construction purposes, subsequent to the removal of minerals, has an unusual amount of radiation and can be carcinogenic.

Amaraweera has directed the two authorities to conduct the investigations with the professionals who are making claims about the high levels of radiation in the sand that is being sold and distributed locally. Previously, the initial investigation had been done by the GSMB and the AEB, and its report, which stated that there is no unusual amount of radiation, had been submitted to Amaraweera, but the latter has once again directed them to conduct the investigations together with the academics that level the allegations. 

A study conducted by the Chair Professor of Geology at the University of Peradeniya, Professor Athula Senaratne, on 2 October, found that using this sand for construction purposes can cause many issues, including substandard buildings. He pointed out that radiation is found in the sand left at the Pulmudai Mineral Sands Corporation and also in the leftover sand even after a Dambulla-based company has extracted its ore. The sand emits more than 500 units of radiation per minute, more than the current level of radiation after the Fukushima radiation leak in Japan.  The Pulmudai Mineral Sands Company extracts ilmenite, rutile, zircon and monocyte, and typically removes only 40 per cent of it, leaving about 60 per cent of the minerals in the sand.

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