Indian CBR material remains vulnerable

A new study suggests that chemical and biological weapons material in India remains poorly secured and could fall into the wrong hands.

The joint study, conducted by Indian and British researchers, said the situation was first brought to the Indian government three years ago after 14,000 tons of chemicals disappeared in the state of Madhya Pradesh, according to

Former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai said such material is vulnerable to theft in India, especially when it is being transported. He said he fears the bulk of the stolen chemicals might have ended up in explosives made by Maoist rebels, though it also might have been used in illegal mining operations.

In a 2011 incident that was widely publicized, a metal pipe containing radioactive Cobalt-60 was found in a Delhi scrap yard. It was eventually traced back to the chemistry department at Delhi University, from where it was sold to the scrap dealers at an auction.

There have also been less noticed cases of radioactive exposure in India, including an incident where Tritium contaminated drinking water in 2009 and sickened 90 people.

"These incidents show while elaborate security structures have been put in place to prevent radioactive material falling into the hands of malicious actors, thus far it has not provided to be completely foolproof," the study concluded, reports.

The study also concluded that large facilities containing chemical and biological material, particularly those under the protection of the Central Industrial Security Force, are generally well-protected. At medium and small facilities, however, the level of protection can vary greatly.