Authorities Investigate Possible Radiation Leak in Bangkok

A container discovered Thursday afternoon in a Bangkok warehouse on Soi Phahonyothin 24. Photo: @Praramcommand / Twitter

BANGKOK — Officials from Thailand's atomic energy agency investigating an abandoned container Thursday afternoon in a Bangkok warehouse have determined there is no danger of radiation leak, police said.

Col. Phanudech Sukwong of Phaholyothin police said although no leak was found and there was no need to evacuate residents, they shut down the building where the container, marked with radiation warning labels, was found on Soi Phahonyothin 24.

“The container was reportedly in that building for days before, but the woman who took care of the building just informed authorities to inspect it today,” he said.

Personnel from the Office of Atoms for Peace were on the scene to determine whether any danger was posed by the container, which initial reports had leaking Cobalt-60. Cobalt 60 is a radioactive isotope used for medical and industrial applications that can cause skin burns, acute radiation sickness and death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

However a police officer on the scene told reporters they believe the container is an x-ray radiation storage device which contained Cesium-137. Maj. Gen. Charoen Srisotluck, a metro police commander, said the container had not leaked.

In 2000, three people died of radiation poisoning after scavengers dismantled an improperly discarded hospital radiation storage unit containing Cobalt-60 in Samut Prakan province.

UPDATE : Pichet Durongkaveroj, the Minister of Science and Technology told the media late Thursday afternoon that the chemical inside the container is actually Iridium-192 used in industrial radiography. He said it expired in 1995 so it’s harmless.

Pichet added that the people responsible for illegally disposing of the chemical will be tracked down for prosecution.

 

Update: 

Pichet Durongkaveroj, the Minister of Science and Technology told media late Thursday afternoon that the chemical inside the container is actually Iridium-192 which is used in industrial radiography. He said it expired in 1995 and so it’s harmless.

Iridium-192 has a half life of around 74 days and can give off low levels of radiation for up to two years according to Dr.Phet Alisanan, a radiation expert from Chulalongkorn Hospital. The chemical can be harmful to skin and can make people feel dizzy or vomit. Though the effects are minimal unless people have direct contact with it, according to Dr. Phet.

Pichet added that the people responsible for illegally disposing of the chemical will be tracked down for prosecution.