Locals urge action over caesium saga

Locals urge action over caesium saga

The missing caesium-137 cylinder (photo: Public Relations Department)
The missing caesium-137 cylinder (photo: Public Relations Department)

A group representing Prachin Buri's residents have formally lodged a complaint with the parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and the Environment over the disappearance of a caesium-137 cylinder from a power plant in the province.

It was received by the committee's vice president, Marut Patchathosingh, at the parliament on Monday.

The radioactive cylinder in question went missing from a power plant on Feb 23, but authorities weren't notified until March 10. After days of frantic searching, authorities detected traces of irradiated red dust at a nearby smelter, which suggested the caesium-137 tube somehow ended up in the smelter's furnace.

According to the complaint, the incident has damaged Prachin Buri's reputation as a model for sustainable natural resource management and a hub for organic agriculture.

The company which owned the power plant has yet to publicly accept responsibility for the incident and to make matters worse; the relevant agencies aren't proactive enough in pursuing a case against the company, the letter said.

The complaint went on to say that Prachin Buri residents demand a thorough probe into the company's waste management processes, especially those relating to the disposal and safekeeping of radioactive materials.

The company should also publicly disclose the result of the investigation into the incident and explain to the public what exactly went wrong, from the day the tube went missing to the moment it was melted down, it said.

Authorities must investigate the agencies which approved the power plant's establishment, and such probes must involve the public, as the incident affected a vast number of people.

The letter urged the committee to carry out any suggestions as soon as possible to prevent the same kind of incident from reoccurring.

Prachin Buri residents will hold their own public hearing on this issue in Sri Maha Phot district tomorrow.

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