Radioactive Cesium-137 Device Missing from Thai Steam Plant

Radioactive Cesium-137 Device Missing from Thai Steam Plant


Local Thai media is reporting that a device used at a steam power plant in Prachin Buri Province has gone missing. The device, “used to detect steam leaks at the plant”, reportedly comprises Cesium-137 which is a radioactive isotope of cesium that is formed as one of the more common fission products by the nuclear fission of uranium-235 and other fissionable isotopes in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

According to Mr. Ron Ron Nakhonchinda, the governor of Prachin Buri Province along with Mr. Permsuk Sajjapiwat, Secretary-General of the Office of Atoms for Peace (PAS, the device may have fallen off of it’s wall mount and a worker may have taken it home. The postulated: “As for how this substance disappeared, I know it’s an old pipe. and it fell off the installation The officer assumed that People who see it may not know what it is, so they keep it without knowing its purpose.”

However, they did not rule out the possibility of theft or sabotage. They did urge the culprit to alert authorities due to the highly radioactive nature of the device and the risk of contamination and health side-effects.

One of ten Cesium-137 devices at the Thai plant. Courtesy of PBS THAILAND

Cesium-137 has a number of practical uses. In small amounts, it is used to calibrate radiation-detection equipment. In medicine, it is used in radiation therapy.  In industry, it is used in flow meters, thickness gauges, moisture-density gauges (for density readings, with americium-241/beryllium providing the moisture reading), and in gamma ray well logging devices. (wiki)

While it is not currently clear what this device is, most industrial devices containing cesium contain enough of the substance to cause death and higher cancer rates among the exposed. Caesium-137 gamma sources have been involved in several radiological accidents and incidents. Specifically, six people were killed and dozens more developed cancer after a Cesium-137 device was destroyed in a building demolition in 1989 Kramtorsk, Ukraine.


Tessaron United States Naval Academy and American Military University Alumni. Covering flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.
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