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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    Radiation Leak in Samut Prakan 2000

    Here is a bit of history about a radiation leak scare in Samut Prakan in 2000. First some press clippings:

    Thailand probes radiation leak
    BBC News
    Monday, 21 February, 2000, 15:58 GMT

    Thai health authorities are testing hundreds of Bangkok residents for radiation sickness after a leak at a scrapyard hospitalised five people, three critically. In all, about 500 residents of the eastern suburb of Samut Prakarn have had blood tests and are now awaiting results. The scrapyard had bought the material from a rubbish collector who had found it in a suburban carpark. The afflicted workers have suffered blisters, radiation burns and hair loss. They have become vulnerable to infections because of a drop in their level of white blood cells, the Health Ministry said. The authorities said they found three canisters containing the radioactive material.


    The radiation came from the radioactive isotope Cobalt 60, which had been inside a container sold to the scrapyard. Cobalt 60 is used to produce high-energy radiation for cancer treatments. It is also used for the sterilisation or preservation of food. Soomjit Saejia, the scrapyard owner, told doctors that her workers had dismantled a small metal cylinder earlier this month to get its steel outer case. The material inside gave off a terrible smell, but no one suspected it was radioactive until the man who took it apart fell ill and three dogs at the scrapyard died. The cylinder has been now located. It reportedly bears the atomic symbol and the words "Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd". Authorities were hopeful that it would enable them to find the owner - probably a hospital - where it would have been used in an X-ray machine. Cobalt 60 is a radioactive isotope used in the production of gamma rays and for sterilisation in the food industry.

    Cotton gloves

    Early on Sunday, officials from Thailand's Office of Atomic Energy for Peace found a small pellet of the isotope at the scrapyard and stored it in a lead-lined container, rendering the area safe. It is Thailand's first known radioactive leak. Front page pictures in the Thai press showed officials searching through scrap metal heaps for radioactive waste using sticks and wearing cotton gardening gloves and cloth face-masks. No more people have so far been reported sick.
    A judge at the Administrative Court blamed the state-run nuclear agency for the February, 2000, cobalt-50 radiation leak that killed three people and seriously injured 10. Three officials of the Office for Atomic Energy for Peace missed several chances to prevent the accident by accounting for, and labelling the cobalt-60 cylinder involved. Their negligence violated the law and directly led to the accident. But the preliminary verdict effectively limited damages to the sum of medical expenses _ about 3.1 million baht for hospital treatment, amputations and the like. The 12 plaintiffs asked for 90 million because the accident denied them any chance to work or live normally, like OAEP officials. - Bangkok Post (29-09-02)
    You can download a pdf file of the full report, with pictures, produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency:

    It is interesting to read the details of how it all actually happened.

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    Jessdikenya (13-11-11)

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Thanked 136 Times in 83 Posts

    Re: Radiation Leak in Samut Prakan 2000

    Thanks for the interesting read - it just shows how important a simple label or lack therof can be. Very dangerous stuff when not handled or disposed of properly.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Re: Radiation Leak in Samut Prakan 2000


    Thanks so much for posting this info. Spent 20 minutes via Gooooogle to find it.

    Friend of mine sent me an article concerning the detection of radio active hospital- equipment materials in a shipping container in Italy. I had read scant details of the incident in Samut Prakhan years ago; some references to the weight of the material and that it was offered for sale to a gold dealer(?)

    Interesting how the inovative Thai search for the material at the junkyard was hindered by a full moon and that the recommendations at the end of the report note that the community assumed the poisoned individuals to be radioactive. Of equal interest is the recommendation that news media should be briefed at a single location and excluded from the area under investigation. That must have been a media free-for-all.

    Do you have any more links or information? I'm certain there was a lawsuit or five.

    Thanks again


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