The operation of the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) will not lead to the release of radioactive or toxic substances, the government's Department of Atomic Energy said, in a bid to allay fears among the public.
''It is not a weapons laboratory and will have no strategic or defence applications. Certain sections of media in the recent past have reported that the INO underground laboratory and the tunnels will be used for storing nuclear waste. Such reports are not factual and are baseless,'' it said in a statement today.
''Department of Atomic Energy strongly refutes such erroneous and malicious reports. It categorically states that no nuclear waste will be stored there at any time and INO laboratory will be used only for the purpose of basic science research in the field of neutrino physics.
''The observatory will be located underground so as to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation,'' it said.
The India-based Neutrino Observatory, an ambitious basic science research project spearheaded by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, involves 30 research institutions across the country.
Set up at a cost of Rs1,500 crore, the project intends to study the properties of atmospheric neutrinos through an underground lab some 1,300 metres below ground near Pottipuram village of Theni district.
DAE said tunnel construction will not have any impact on environment, water sources or dams in the region. The project has all the required clearances from various central and state government authorities.
A detailed geotechnical studies was also carried out by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), it added.
DAE said the INO will be conducting basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.
It said in the statement, ''The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter. The underground laboratory, consisting of a large cavern of size 132m × 26m × 20m and several smaller caverns, will be accessed by a 1900 m long and 7.5 m wide tunnel. INO project is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST) with DAE acting as the nodal agency.''
Ai present, 21 research institutes, universities and IITs from all over the country are involved in this project.
''INO is expected to galvanise interest in basic science research in the whole country and particularly in and around Theni and Madurai districts of Tamil Nadu. Science students across the country will have opportunity to pursue cutting edge research in the field of particle physics while being located in India,'' the release added.
(Also see: India-based Nutrino Observatory project awaits PMO approval )