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Traces of missing Thai radioactive matter located in foundry
  • | AFP | March 20, 2023 06:05 PM
Thai officials searching for a radioactive cylinder missing from a power station said Monday that they had found traces of the dangerous material in a nearby steel foundry.

The 25-kilo (55-pound) steel tube containing highly radioactive caesium-137 was reported missing from the coal-fired power plant in Prachinburi province, east of Bangkok, earlier this month.

Officials said traces of caesium had been found at a foundry around 10 kilometres (six miles) away, though they were not sure whether the cylinder was intact.

"We are not sure if the cylinder has already melted, but we found caesium at this steel melting plant," said Prachinburi governor Ronnarong Nakornjinda.

He said that if it had been melted, the radioactive material would have been contained within a "closed" area, and that there was no sign of contamination nearby.

A search was launched after staff at the power station reported the loss of the steel tube, roughly 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and 13 centimetres wide, two weeks ago.

Officials said they were conducting tests to check radiation levels in the surrounding area.

"It has not leaked out from the control area," said Kitkawin Aramrun, from the Office of Atoms for Peace, the government agency responsible for nuclear research and leading the search.

"We are confident that we can control the situation and limit the contamination zone," he added.

Health officials said none of the foundry's 60 foreign workers or 10 Thai staff were unwell.

Prachinburi police commander Vinai Nuchcha confirmed an investigation was ongoing and said the power plant had been sealed off.

The cylinder was part of a device to measure steam pressure at the plant, and according to police was the only one reported missing.

It follows a January incident in Australia in which a tiny radioactive capsule was recovered two weeks after it tumbled off a lorry along a remote outback highway.

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