Monday, March 20, 2023

Lost radioactive capsule found in Australia

PERTH, Australia ( Associated Press) – Authorities in Western Australia recovered a small but dangerous radioactive capsule that fell off a truck along an 870-mile (1,400-kilometer) highway route last month. One official described the achievement as finding a needle in a haystack.

According to authorities, the pea-sized capsule was found on the Great Northern Highway south of Newman. It was discovered by a search vehicle traveling at 70 kilometers (43 mi) per hour when the expert team detected radiation emitted by the object.

Portable search equipment was then used to search two meters (6.5 ft) from the road.

Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson said, “This is an extraordinary result … They have literally found a needle in a haystack.”

Health director Andy Robertson said the pod did not appear to be moving and there were no reports of injuries.

The piece contains a ceramic source of cesium 137, commonly used in radiation sensors. It emits dangerous amounts of radiation equivalent to receiving 10 X-rays per hour. May cause skin burns and prolonged exposure may cause cancer.

The search team had been searching the entire highway for six days.

The capsule measures 8 millimeters by 6 millimeters (0.31 by 0.24 in) and it was warned that it could get caught in the tires of another vehicle without the driver noticing.

The government has started an inquiry into how the capsule fell from the truck and a report will be submitted to the health minister.

Defense officials were verifying the identity of the capsule, which was kept in a lead container for safety. It will be stored at a secure location in Newman before being transferred to a health facility in the city of Perth.

The capsule was lost on 10 January while traveling between a desert mine and Perth. The truck arrived at a depot in Perth on 16 January. Emergency services were informed about the missing capsule on 25 January.

Simon Trott, CEO of mining giant Rio Tinto Iron Ore, has apologized for the incident.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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