The Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) will seek help from the Ministry of Defence to look for the missing caesium-137, as officials remain unsure that the radiation already detected in several places is actually from the missing radioactive material, according to Kitkawin Aramrun, a radiation expert at the OAP.
He explained that the Defence Ministry is better equipped and has greater expertise, which could be helpful.
Kitkawin disclosed that OAP officials have detected caesium-137 radiation in three more places in the foundry in Kabin Buri district of Prachin Buri, where it is thought that the metallic cylinder and its caesium-137 contents had been melted down at one of the furnaces.
Radiation from caesium-137 has been detected in and around one of the furnaces, at the soot screening chimney and at a screening mesh, in addition to the radiation earlier detected among the 24 tonnes of metallic dust contained in large bags kept at the foundry.
Kitkawin admitted that OAP officials are not sure that the radiation emitting from the bags came from the same caesium-137 which went missing from the steam power plant in Si Maha Phot district.
A Thai PBS team of reporters visited the foundry yesterday and reported seeing trucks still entering and exiting the facility, despite an order from Prachin Buri governor shutting down the foundry and declaring the site off-limits to unauthorised people.
Commenting on this issue, Kitkawin said that the OAP has no authority to intervene in this problem, noting that it is the responsibility of provincial industrial works officials.
Assistant Professor Napapong Pongnapang, president of the Thai Society of Radiological Technologists (TSRT) said, however, that the public should not be overly concerned over the radiation, pointing that the amount of missing caesium-137 is very small, only about 0.0005g, compared to the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986, when a massive amount radiation from 27kg of caesium-137 was released into the atmosphere, which is 57 million times more devastating than the incident in Prachin Buri.
He pointed out that, normally, people are exposed to natural, or background radiation, adding, however, that it does not mean that the missing caesium-137 is not dangerous at all.
He suggested that the authorities draw a map of the possible routes which the missing radioactive material could have travelled, to figure out which groups of people likely to have been exposed.
A chemistry lecturer, at the Faculty of Science of Mahidol University, urged authorities to disclose the actual amount of caesium-137 that went missing and the density of radiation, so they can understand how dangerous it is.
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