After a days-long search for a missing radioactive capsule, authorities in Thailand managed to find the device on Monday in Eastern Prachin Buri Province.
The cylinder, which contains cesium-137 and weighs 25 kilograms, was found after radioactive readings were detected at a metal foundry in the province, local media reported, citing the provincial governor Ronnarong Nakornjinda.
Authorities are still investigating whether the cylinder was fully melted and smelted at the National Power Plant 5A Co, said Ronnarong in a press conference on Monday.
Julapong Taweesri, the Director General of Thailand’s Department of Industrial Works, told a local television channel that the cylinder may have been melted and smelted into “red dust,” after officials detected cesium dust particles at the plant.
There have been no reported injuries or illnesses related to the discovery of the radioactive capsule, Opas Karnkawinpong, secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, told reporters.
However, 70 workers at the now-closed plant have been tested for radiation poisoning, but nothing has been detected.
The loss of the cylinder, which is normally used for ash measurements, was first reported missing on 10 March, after one of the workers did a routine check at a coal power plant in the province.
Authorities will charge the plant with delayed reporting of missing radioactive material, which they believe went missing as early as 17 Feb. The offense carries as much as a THB 100,000 (USD 2,916) fine and a maximum of one year in prison, reports Bloomberg.
The risk of exposure to cesium-137 includes but is not limited to burns and cancer. The half-life of this radioactive material is around 30 years.
#Cesium-137 became one of the top Thai trending hashtags on Twitter in Thailand on Monday.