A radioactive source of a cement company has gone missing in the northeastern province of Bac Kan since last month, officials announced on Monday.
The radioactive source Cs-137, which is put in a lead cylinder weighing about 4kg, of Bac Kan Cement Joint Stock Company has been nowhere to be found at least since the middle of last month, said Nguyen Hoang Hiep, deputy secretary of the provincial Party Committee.
The lost equipment is considered a weak radioactive source, according to Hiep.
The Bac Kan Department of Science and Technology on Monday afternoon released an official notice about the incident, stating that the cement company had been ordered by Bac Kan authorities to check and list its assets in early 2015.
The branch of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam in Bac Kan was tasked with supervising the checking and listing process as well as securing the radioactive source, according to the notice.
The department also entrusted Dinh Van Bang, director of Bac Kan Cement Joint Stock Company, with the transfer of the source to a safe place for storage, pursuant to strict guidelines provided by the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety.
On December 15, 2015, Bang contacted the Bac Kan Department of Science and Technology to report that the radioactive cylinder had been gone.
The provincial People’s Committee ordered police and competent agencies to carry out the search for the lost equipment, following Bang’s report.
The radioactive source Cs-137 is seen in this photo provided by the Bac Kan Department of Science and Technology. Photo: VnExpress
Several experts have been dispatched to Bac Kan, along with modern radiation detectors sponsored by the United States, to assist provincial police officers in the mission, Vuong Huu Tan, head of the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety under the Ministry of Science and Technology, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The search could face many difficulties as the exact time of missing has not been pinpointed, Tan explained.
The official also added that the radioactive source Cs-137 belongs to Category 5, which poses low risks to the well-being of humans as well as the environment.
“The search is currently being conducted by Bac Kan police. We will send a team of inspectors to support them, as well as investigate the case to determine those organizations responsible,” he said.
In a similar case in April 2015, authorities in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau announced that they were looking for a radioactive source that had possibly gone missing for over three months.
The lost equipment, which was known as Cobalt-60 and could be very hazardous, belonged to a steelmaking plant operated by Pomina JSC. It has yet to be found so far.