A Kanpur-based leather goods manufacturer, Royal Ascot Leather Private Limited, is alleged to have supplied belts that contained radioactive metal studs to Britain’s largest online fashion retailer, Asos. The retail firm has recalled the belts.
According to an internal report by Asos, the belts could cause damage to the wearer if worn for more than 500 hours. They are being held in a radioactive storage facility after testing positive for Cobalt-60.
“A product supplied to Asos did not meet UK health and safety standards. Asos worked with all relevant authorities and undertook a precautionary product recall,” said an Asos spokesperson.
“None of these belts are suitable for public use or possession... India and the Far East are large consumers of scrap metal... During the refining process, orphaned radioactive sources are sometimes accidentally melted at the same time,” said the report.
But the London-based agent who supplied the order, Faizal Haq, has been refused permission to inspect the belts, with Asos telling him that counter-terrorism agencies believe he is a security risk.
“They claimed that one will develop cancer by wearing these belts. I have no idea about any such incident happening,” said Mohammad Shuja, the owner of Royal Ascot Leather. His manufacturing unit in Kanpur has been shut since December.
Shuja said he had supplied 641 leather belts with brass studs to Asos in December last year. He said the metal studs were sourced from Phool Mandi market of Kanpur. “It is easily available. No one has faced any problem so far,” he said.
“Asos also wrote to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board which sent a team to inspect our premises. The team issued a certificate saying that no radioactive material was recovered,’’ said Shuja, adding that the British firm has withheld a payment of £ 64,000 and claimed a damage of £ 100,000.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that the belts Asos claims are contaminated do not match the description of the belts supplied by Haq. Independent tests by the Health Protection Agency at Haq’s London warehouse found there was no radiation from any of the belts and metal stored there.
— with PTI, London