Radiation 'poses no threat' to local food produce

Radiation 'poses no threat' to local food produce

The missing tube of caesium-137. (Photo: Public Relations Department)
The missing tube of caesium-137. (Photo: Public Relations Department)

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on on Wednesday assured that produce from Prachin Buri is 100% safe for consumption, following health fears sparked by a missing tube of caesium-137 in the province.

Radiation concerns were raised after authorities found caesium-137-contaminated furnace dust at a steel plant in Prachin Buri's Kabin Buri district this week.

Customers cancelled purchase orders of fruit from the province even after authorities insisted no contamination had been detected within a 5-kilometre radius of the factory.

Mr Chalermchai said checks for radioactive substances in agricultural products around the factory had been conducted and the radiation levels did not exceed safety limits.

He said agricultural products were 100% safe to eat and the ministry would work closely with state agencies to test radiation levels and ensure food safety.

Meanwhile, 70 devices to measure radioactivity were distributed by the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) to communities within a 5km radius of the steel melting factory.

OAP staff were also sent to collect samples of soil and water near the Hat Nang Kaew tambon administrative organisation to test for any contamination. They agreed to conduct tests for locals who were concerned about this risk.

Kitkawin Aramrun, a senior radiation physicist at the OAP, said trucks were permitted to enter the factory's compound to drop metal scrap only. He said the steel melting plant had been shut down to guarantee it was contamination-free.

The caesium-137 cylinder went missing from a National Power Plant 5A Company facility at 304 Industrial Park on Feb 23, but a complaint was not lodged until March 10.

After days of frantic searching, authorities found radiated red dust believed to be from the remains of a caesium-137 tube at the steel plant.

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5 Jun 2023