The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), upon the request of the Thai Government under the Convention on Assistance in Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency sent a team to Bangkok to help Thai counterparts in the wake of an accident involving a discarded radioactive cobalt 60 source used in hospitals. The source had been found and its lead container removed, resulting in ten people being seriously exposed to radiation.
The IAEA team consisted of two radiation experts from IAEA headquarters in Vienna, who monitored the radiation situation at the places where the source was located and opened, and three medical doctors from Japan, who provided specialist advice to their Thai colleagues. Of the ten patients treated for radiation exposure, three are in critical condition. The IAEA continues to be available for the provision of further assistance if requested.
The Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed his concern about the many cases of this kind in recent years. Since 1997, the IAEA has been asked to provide assistance relating to the loss of control over radiation sources in Bangladesh, Georgia, Ghana, Peru, Turkey and Venezuela. In some cases, serious injuries resulted from the loss of control. Mr. El Baradei called on governments to maintain registers of all radiation sources in their territories and provide for proper supervision throughout their use and disposal. A sound national safety infrastructure in the nuclear application field should be a high priority.