BA RIA-VUNG TAU (VNS) — The search for 45kg of radio-active material missing from an iron mill in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province will be expanded to the neighbouring provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong and HCM City.
This was announced by the Viet Nam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS) at a meeting yesterday with the province's People's Committee and Pomina Iron Mill 3.
The search will be mainly focused on salvage depots, industrial waste centres and other steel mills in the region, said Mai Thanh Quang, head of the search task force and director of the province's Department of Science and Technology.
A task force also asked iron mill workers to help search waste depots and offer tips on where the missing materials may be.
At a press conference on Saturday, two Government official admitted that the control of radio-active materials in Viet Nam had not been given proper attention.
The head of the Government Office, Nguyen Van Nen, and Deputy minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said this was demonstrated by the fact that radio-active material has gone missing.
The material is believed to have been missing for up to three months before its loss was discovered.
It contained low-level radio-active Cobalt-60 that, according to VARANS, does not pose risks to human life unless there is long-term exposure
Anh said the steel-maker, Pomina must be held responsible for the loss of the material. Local authorities and agencies also must take responsibility for failing to enforce the regulations.
He said Viet Nam had a number of safety regulations that required radio-active substances to be registered, supervised and managed by responsible parties.
"We failed to take pro-active steps to prevent such an incident from happening. Various ministries are working together to make policy adjustments for the improvement of State's control over nuclear and radio-active substances," Anh said.
Minister Nen said further steps would be taken to improve control and security. The Ministry of Public Security has the job of detecting and stopping illegal possession of radio-active material - and preventing it from being smuggled or stockpiled.
Mobile radio-active apparatus, which includes equipment, appliances or other things that are portable and classed as radio-active, are to be equipped with GPS tracking devices.
Last September, the HCM City Apave Asia-Pacific Company reported that it had lost a radio-active device, which was later found after a four-day search. — VNS