Missing: 1 highly radioactive cylinder misplaced by Thai power plant

Photo: Prachinburi Provincial Office
Photo: Prachinburi Provincial Office

Weeks after an irradiated metal cylinder holding dangerous levels of a nuclear isotope went missing from a Thai power plant – which only reported its absence six days ago – the authorities have expanded the search.

The National Power Plant 5A has offered a THB50,000 (US$1,450) bounty for anyone who helps find its errant canister loaded with Cesium-137, which is a waste product of nuclear reactors, as government officials said this morning they have expanded their search by visiting scrapyards and markets northwest of the capital in Prachinburi province’s Si Maha Phot district.

The radioactive cylinder, which is about 20 centimeters long and 15 centimeters in diameter, weighs 25 kilograms. It was reported missing last week from the power plant, which apparently decided to wait two weeks to inform the authorities that a highly dangerous component with the capability of sickening and killing scores of people had been misplaced.

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The search team includes officers from the Office of Atoms for Peace and radiation experts. They have visited and searched shops in the area to no avail. 

Three people were killed and 10 people seriously irradiated in 2000 in Samut Prakan province when a similar Cobalt-60 device “was partially dismantled … to sell as scrap metal.”

Cesium-137 has a variety of medical and industrial uses.

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