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Search expands for radio-active material

Update: April, 15/2015 - 17:52
Radio-active material could only affect people's heath if they were exposed to it for a long time. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Manh Duong

HA NOI (VNS) — Vuong Huu Tan, director of Viet Nam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS), claims that 45 kilogrammes of radio-active material missing from Pomina steel mill in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province does not pose a threat to people's health.

The agency said it had carefully examined the safety of the material, which contains radio-active Cobalt-60. It was reported missing early this month, however it is believed the material could have gone missing as long as three months ago.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the missing material is classified as category five, well below the most dangerous source category one. However, some would classify the material as category four, which is slightly more dangerous.

The agency said the radio-active material could only affect people's heath if they were exposed to it for a long time.

VARANS has co-ordinated with localities in searching for the missing material. They are focusing on waste collectors, recycling sites and even steel factories because the material could have been mistaken for iron, Tan said.

The agency plans to search iron residue at the factory and speak to collectors of iron-residue. It will expand the search to surrounding regions, including HCM City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces if necessary.

Tan said the agency had proposed that the Ministry of Science and Technology amend Circular 23/2010/TT-BKHCN to strengthen the management of radio-active material in the country.

Once the amendments are approved, all sources of radioactive equipment will be equipped with GPS devices.

In a related move, the Deputy Prime Minister, Vu Duc Dam, has asked the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province's People's Committee to instruct agencies to search for the missing substance.

He also ordered provincial authorities to see if the disappearance violated radiation safety regulations and inform the Prime Minister.

The deputy Prime Minister authorised the Minister of Science and Technology to co-ordinate agencies to make recommendations to the Prime Minister about strengthening policies on atomic energy and radiation safety. — VNS

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