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WORLD NEWS | Thai officials search for radioactive cylinders from factory


The LATAM Airlines plane hit the vehicle on the runway (Image: Twitter / @AirCrash_)

BANGKOK, March 15 (AP) — Thai authorities on Wednesday expanded the search for a missing metal cylinder containing radioactive material at a power plant and warned the public that it posed a health risk.

On Friday, a 30-centimeter (12-inch) cylinder containing radioactive cesium-137 was found on a machine at the Prachinburi steam power plant, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Bangkok.

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Ake Wongjinda, a public relations officer for the provincial government, said Wednesday that authorities had inspected locations including thrift stores, scrap metal yards and second-hand shops in Prachinburi and neighboring Chachoengsao province for the 25-kilogram (55-pound) steel cylinders.

Health officials have warned the public that prolonged direct exposure to radioactive material can cause rashes, hair loss, mouth sores, fatigue and vomiting.

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Short-term exposure to cesium-137 may not cause immediate symptoms, but may lead to a higher risk of cancer, they said.

Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn, director-general of the Ministry of Medical Services, said cesium-137 has similar physical properties to salt and disperses easily when the container is opened.

He says it’s used in devices that measure humidity or the velocity of liquids.

The cylinder is attached to a 17-meter (56-foot) high silo and is used to measure the ash in the silo, said Permsuk Sutchaphiwat, secretary-general of Thailand’s Atomic Promotion Office for Peace.

Kittiphan Chitpentham, a representative of the power station’s owner, State Electricity Public Ltd, said it was not clear whether the cylinders had been lost accidentally.

The company is offering a cash reward of 50,000 baht ($1,445) to anyone who can provide relevant information, he said.

It may have disappeared weeks ago, the company said,

In 2000, illegally discarded jars containing the radioactive substance Cobalt-60 were found at a dump in Samut Prakan province on the outskirts of Bangkok.

At least five people have been hospitalized after being exposed to radiation when scrapyard workers opened cans without realizing the danger.

These cylinders are thought to come from a medical X-ray machine. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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