Phu Yen authorities are rushing to handle a construction device containing radioactive material that has not been properly stored for two years, leading to a small leak.
“We found the low-level radioactive leak which may be unsafe for people exposed to it,” said Duong Ngoc Anh of the province's Department of Science and Technology.
The leak was found during a recent inspection of the Phu Yen Bridge and Road Construction Consulting Center.
Anh said the device is used for gauging the density and inner structure of road foundations.
The device had been used by Project Management Unit No. 1, under the Ministry of Transport, in a project to widen National Road 1A in Phu Yen Province in 2002-2003, he said.
“After the project completed, the unit handed over the device to Phu Yen Bridge and Road Construction Consulting Center without any information apart from its American origin,” he said.
The center, which reportedly had stored the device properly, moved to a new location two years ago, where the device has been placed inside a safe since, Anh said.
Vo Quoc Van, deputy director of Phu Yen Bridge and Road Construction Consulting Center, said the center has never used the device.
Radioactive exposure can lead to injuries and long-term health problems, including birth deformities and cancer.
On June 16, Tran Quang Nhat, deputy chairman of Phu Yen People’s Committee, ordered the consulting center to take immediate measures to store the device safely before handing it to the Da Lat Nuclear Research Center.
He asked the Center to contact the Project Management Unit No. 1 for relevant information of the device.
Loose management of radioactive device is not uncommon in Vietnam.
Authorities in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau are still searching for a missing container of radioactive material at the local steel mill Pomina 3.
The capsule, believed to contain highly radioactive cobalt-60, was imported in 2010 and was last seen and recorded at the end of 2014 when it was removed from one of the mill’s production lines that broke down, according to the company.
No records showed that it was sent to the mill’s warehouse after the removal.