PRACHIN BURI: A bulky tube containing radioactive caesium-137, a highly hazardous isotope, has reportedly gone missing from a National Power Plant 5A Company facility in Si Maha Phot district of Prachin Buri, police said.
Pol Col Mongkol Thopao, the Si Maha Phot police chief, said that around noon last Friday Kittikhun Pattamakaew, 40, a representative of the company, filed a police complaint.
He said it was learned that day that a tube containing caesium-137, which had been attached to a tower tank of the steam power plant had gone missing when its staff went to check the radioactive level as scheduled.
He said Mr Kittikhun did not know when the tube went missing or how it broke loose or was removed from the tank.
Mr Kittikhun said CCTV cameras are installed in the factory but the footage can only play back a certain period. Outsiders can’t enter the site unless they hold a visitor card.
He said the tube containing the isotope was about 30 centimetres long and 13cm in diameter.
Pol Col Mongkol said officials from the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) examined the factory but detected no danger in terms of radioactivity.
Police checked shops that buy and sell scrap metal but also came up with nothing, he said.
The company has reportedly offered a 50,000-baht reward for information leading to the recovery of the missing caesium-137 tube.
The isotope is used in industrial gauges that detect the flow of liquids through pipes and in devices to measure the thickness of materials.
OAP secretary-general Permsuk Sutchaphiwat said it is considered safe if the tube remained intact as it is designed to withstand the impact of falling from a five-storey building. He believed the tube was likely stolen.