Where did the cylinder containing a dangerous radioactive substance, which disappeared from a Thai power plant, go? Staff at the coal-fired power plant in Prachinburi province, east of Bangkok, noticed the 30-centimetre-long and 13-centimetre-wide steel tube missing during a routine check last Friday. On Tuesday, authorities warned Tuesday of serious health risks in case of direct exposure.
Searches over the weekend failed to locate the 25kg tube containing highly radioactive cesium-137, said Kittiphan Chitpentham, a member of the state-owned state-owned energy company, which owns the plant. The company assumes that the tube fell from a wall bracket, about 18 meters high, a few days earlier.
Do not open the cylinder
Radiation tests carried out at the plant show that it has since been removed from the premises. "We ask people in the area to help us find him," said Narong Nakornjinda, the governor of Prachinburi province. "The radioactive substance is contained in a closed and protected environment, but if someone opens the cylinder and exposes themselves to this substance, it can cause rashes and burns," he warned.
The missing cylinder is part of a device used to measure the pressure of the steam column of the plant. Authorities have not specified how much cesium-137 it contains. Authorities are trying to identify the person who took away the cylinder through CCTV footage, the government agency in charge of nuclear research added, also advising against opening the cylinder.
A similar incident in Australia
"If someone breaks the cylinder, they are directly at high risk of cancer and serious disease. So it is advisable not to break it," said Permsuk Sutchaphiwat, secretary of the government agency. The cylinder's disappearance comes weeks after a similar incident in Australia, where authorities found a small radioactive capsule that fell from a truck in mid-January after a two-week search.