Missing Radioactive Cylinder Melted Down Into Scrap At Thai Smelting Plant

By Bill Galluccio

March 21, 2023

steel tube containing Caesium-137
Photo: Prachin Buri Provincial Public Relations Office

Earlier this month, authorities in Thailand issued an alert after a radioactive steel tube was reported missing from a coal-fired powerplant. The tube was used for making ash measurements at the plant and contained the radioactive isotope Caesium-137.

Officials asked the public for any information about the missing tube but advised them not to go searching for it because the radiation could be harmful to their health.

On Monday (March 20), authorities announced they had found the tube, but unfortunately, it had been melted down into tiny cubes, which were set to be smelted at a later date.

According to Nation Thailand, officials discovered the tube after detecting traces of radiation in the furnace dust at a steel foundry in the Kabin Buri district. Officials completely shut down the plant and ordered all the employees to leave.

Authorities said there is no threat to the public, and no traces of radiation were found in the air within a three-mile radius of the foundry. They also added that all bags of furnace dust that left the foundry tested negative for Caesium-137.

None of the employees tested positive for exposure to the radioactive isotope.

"Contaminated furnace dust was contained within the compound and did not leave it... There is no contamination in the environment of Prachin Buri," said Kitkawin Aramrun, Office of Atoms for Peace senior radiation physicist, according to the Bangkok Post.

Officials said they are investigating how the tube went missing and how it ended up at the smelting plant.

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