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GreekReporter.comAustraliaMissing Radioactive Capsule in Australia Found

Missing Radioactive Capsule in Australia Found

Radioactive capsule Australia found
Missing Radioactive Capsule in Australia Found. Credit: Western Australian Department Of Fire And Emergency

Finding the lost radioactive capsule was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but authorities eventually located it on the side of a remote Australian highway.

On Wednesday afternoon, state emergency officials made the discovery public, six days after a capsule containing highly radioactive Caesium-137 went missing from a shipment traveling from a Rio Tinto mining facility in northern Western Australia to the capital city of Perth.

State Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson stated during a press conference on Wednesday, “Locating this object was a monumental challenge — the search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack.”

The disappearance of radioactive capsule

The disappearance of the capsule triggered a widespread search of the roadway, using radiation-detecting equipment and warnings to the public not to approach the capsule, which could inflict significant burns on contact with skin.

The capsule, which measures 8 mm in height and 6 mm in diameter, was said to be dropped off the back of a truck while being transported 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from the mine along the Great Northern Highway.

Gudai-Darri iron ore mine operator Rio Tinto said it regularly transported and stored dangerous products as part of its operations and employed skilled contractors to manage radioactive items.

Finding the capsule

In a statement released on Wednesday, Chief Executive Simon Trott said the company was “incredibly grateful” for the efforts made to locate the capsule and apologized to the community once more for its loss.

“While the recovery of the capsule is a great testament to the skill and tenacity of the search team, the fact is it should never have been lost in the first place,” he said. “We are taking this incident very seriously and are undertaking a full and thorough investigation into how it happened.”

A crew using radiation-detecting equipment found the lost capsule on Wednesday at 11:13 a.m. local time, two meters off the road south of the small town of Newman, according to the authorities.

A 20-meter exclusion zone has been established around the capsule, and officials have stated that it will be moved to a lead container and transported to a Newman security facility.

It would head south once again on Thursday, this time to a health department facility in Perth.

No one got exposed to the radioactive capsule

According to Andrew Robertson, Chief Health Officer and Chair of the Radiological Council, no one appears to have been exposed to the capsule’s radiation while it was gone missing.

“It does not appear to have moved – it appears to have fallen off the track and landed on the side of the road. It is remote enough that it’s not in any major community, so it is unlikely that anybody has been exposed to the capsule,” he said.

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