Radioactive Capsule Gets Lost Prompting Urgent Search

Western Australia authorities launched an urgent search after a mining company reported the radioactive capsule missing. The tiny object is just 8 by 6 millimeters in size, but it contains cesium-137, which is a radioactive substance used in mining operations.

The company that owns the capsule said the radioactive object has been missing for days, but they noticed its absence just recently. They notified authorities, the population was alerted about the situation, and an emergency search was launched immediately. Apparently, the object fell from the vehicle when it was being taken from one mine to another.

Fire services said the radioactive capsule could be located between the remote town of Newman and the northern suburbs of Perth, at a distance of approximately 1,400 kilometers.

“The start and the end of the transportation route, the mine site north of Newman, and the haulage depot at the north-eastern suburbs of Perth, were among the locations being searched,” said the Australian authorities. “We are also combing roads and other areas in the search zone.”

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Highly Dangerous Radioactive Capsule

Australia’s emergency service informed that, although the capsule can’t be turned into a weapon, it is highly dangerous for health. The biggest concern is that someone finds it without knowing what it is, said Western Australia’s chief health officer Dr. Andrew Robertson.

“Exposure to this substance could cause radiation burns or serious illness. If someone finds the capsule or anything similar to it, stay away and keep others away as well,” added Dr. Robertson.

Meanwhile, the search goes on at the hands of a multi-agency incident management team comprised of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Health, Western Australia Police, and other subject matter experts. The exact route is being verified, and the stops made during the journey from north Newman to find the radioactive capsule.

Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera